Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmastime Has Begun

Hmmm there's a lot to catch up on.  I'll try to keep it quick.

Thanksgiving day was great, Thomas was in charge of the turkey and I did all the sides.  We had one lady from his office come over, she's in town temporarily but will be moving here over the summer with her husband and toddler girl, who is close to Ben's age.  She's nice and we had a good time eating and chatting for a couple hours.  She's staying in a hotel that has a little kitchen area, so I got to send her home with leftovers.  Our fridge looked ridiculous after everything went in.

I did the usual green bean casserole, some frozen rolls that you let rise for 4 hours before putting in the oven (delicious!) and roasted carrots.  I made the Pioneer Woman's recipe for mashed potatoes, and did them the day before.  They turned out great, and I'll be using that trick from now on.  I wanted to make a sweet potato casserole, but that would have been major overkill.  I made two pumpkin pies, and took the second one over to friends' house for dinner a couple days later. 

After eating and lounging on turkey day, Thomas put up the tree my parents generously gave us.  They didn't want to deal with such a tall tree anymore, and it fits perfectly in our apartment.  We slowly decorated it over a couple days, so I'll have to take another picture of the finished tree.

Naked trees are still festive!  Also, built in lights are amazing.

Friday we skipped church because Benjamin slept late and I felt bad.  (Thanks a lot, menstruation.)  I had been foolishly hoping that I was pregnant, but no, it's just my cycles being weird.  I was a little depressed, but I'm trying to hope while also being thankful for what I have now.  Maybe it's normal, but I'm always looking for the next thing instead of just being content.  And a lot of people on Facebook are pregnant, which makes the lows even lower.  Not that I begrudge them at all the happiness of babies, but it's more, "why not me too?".  Juvenile and petty.  I think because I'm a lot younger than my siblings that I want what's "fair".  And that's not how God works.

And obviously we have Benjamin, which is amazing.  I don't want to come across as ungrateful, because even when times are rough I'm so glad we have him.  But... I just want another child.  And I'm trying to be patient, but it's hard to know that we're here two years before we can adopt.  Probably I could start looking into all that before we move back home.  But we also need to figure out whether to sell our old place and buy something bigger.  Or go back to our teeny house and save money to adopt.  But then we'd need a bigger house anyway.  Or at least to renovate ours to make it habitable for two kids.  And this is my psycho planning running away from me.  Moving on...

Saturday Thomas and I got to see "Argo" in the theater, which was great.  It's so fun to get out of the house for a bit and have a date.  Even if it's eating lunch at McDonalds in the mall food court.  The movie was great, I'm an unabashed Ben Affleck fan.  And it's just so interesting, I can't imagine the stress of being in an embassy that's being invaded.  The first few minutes were a little frightening to me, honestly.  But inshallah we won't ever experience that. 

Saturday night we ate dinner with friends, a nice break from Thanksgiving leftovers.  Sunday Thomas went back to work and Benjamin and I met up with Rebecca and Matthew for a play date at the embassy.  That was great fun, and then we ate lunch with Thomas afterward.  Win win.

Monday I had class and lunch again with Thomas.  We got our stocking hook-things in the mail, so they are now hung.  We didn't have a fireplace in Arlington and always stayed in Aiken for Christmas where my mom had the stockings, so this is the first time we have hung them in our own place.  Pretty weird.  And I realized today that we'll be here for Christmas next year too.  Freaking. me. out.

After Thomas put in the request last week, a guy finally came to the apartment and turned on the heat.  Sadly, there's no way to regulate the temperature, it's on full blast or it's off.  So last night was miserable and sweaty.  I turned the switch off this morning to let the house cool down a bit, but then the water wasn't getting hot.  So strange.  But, now we know, and Thomas will just have to remember to flip the switch before taking his shower in the morning. 

Today, Tuesday, we just hung out at home while Thomas was at work.  Benjamin's been a little fussy today, I'm not sure if he's getting a cold or what.  He's sneezing a lot, and a bit snotty.  And has some attitude as well.  Fingers crossed it's just a phase or teething, I don't want him being sick. 

Over the weekend we took some Christmas pictures of Benjamin in front of the tree, and ordered Christmas cards.  They'll probably get to people at the end of January, but oh well. 

Look deeply into my eyes.  Give me toys.

And now it's time for Arabic homework.  I'm hoping we can start on the alphabet soon, but I think my teacher is waiting for us to really grasp some more verbs and vocabulary.  We're working on "to eat breakfast" and "to eat lunch".  Yes, they are very specific. 

Not super quick, but at least there were pictures, right?


Thursday, November 22, 2012


On Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for...

My husband, Thomas.  He is a great guy, and a fantastic father.  I'm very blessed.

My son, Benjamin.  When I think of how challenging it is to conceive, and having lost a baby two months ago, I'm surprised and grateful for this little miracle.  I pray continuously that God will give us more children, but I'm trying to accept what each day brings and not be so discontent.

Wearing Daddy's glasses.

My parents.  They are kind, and fun, and I'm lucky that they are a great example of a successful marriage.

My siblings.  My brother is the coolest guy to walk the planet, and my sister is the nicest person in our family.  I'm also thankful for their spouses and children.  And I'm missing them all lots today.

My in-laws.  They are loving and constantly support us in prayer.  My sister-in-law is the little sister I never had.  Incredibly blessed by them.

The chance to live overseas.  Even though Amman would have never figured on any list I would have made of places to live.  Praying for stability and calm despite trying times for the local populace, but I haven't felt unsafe here.  Hoping that continues.

Good friends here.  It's been so nice to be warmly welcomed by so many new people.

My Arabic class.  I really like my classmates, Laura and Emily.  And I'm so glad to be learning a language again.  After majoring in German, I lost most of it by not practicing.  I hope that I can spend two years working on Arabic and getting okay at it, and that I can keep it up back in VA.

Our apartment.  I love having lots of space.  The kitchen is amazing.  Having a standard size stove is the best.

The beginning of the Christmas season.  We put up the Christmas tree tonight, my parents gave us the one they used for a few years before deciding to downsize a little.  It was so magical turning on the tree lights and listening to some Sinatra carols.  I do miss being home, but it's nice to have some "normality". 

I'm glad I have a Savior who paid everything for me so I could be in a right relationship with God.  I'm grateful that I can do absolutely nothing to contribute.  I'm resting completely in His arms.

Yay!  Christmas tree!

I hope you have lots to be thankful for today.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Busy Busy

The past few days have been fairly busy, which is why it's taken me a while to get back to posting updates.  And here we go...

Friday morning we went to church and I enjoyed sitting in on the sermon this week, since last time Thomas took the turn.  (Benjamin usually needs one of us around, so we can't both sit and listen/participate.)  On the way home we stopped by the fruit guy and the grocery store so I could grab bread and some other things.  And guess what I found... evaporated milk!  In the tiny corner store!  I was so excited.

I bought two cans because I have a gigantic can of pumpkin which makes two pies.  I was thinking about also getting a frozen apple pie and making a chocolate chess pie (my all-time favorite) but I might wait on those.  It might only be three of us for Thanksgiving, which is fine, but we'll have leftovers for weeks.  Thank goodness we have the extra freezer!  I might actually use it soon.

Saturday we took it pretty easy, until Emy arrived at 7pm and we rode with Kristin and Karl out to dinner at Levant, a nice restaurant.  They serve family-style, and we had a green chopped salad thing, a very spicy carrot salad, some super-fresh bread, hummus of course, and then shawarma on a spit.  We also had freekeh with cheese, and haloumi cheese wrapped in a crunchy shell-thing.  It was all delicious and we stayed for dessert and hot tea afterward.  This was a goodbye meal of sorts for them, they left today (Monday) to head back home after a vacation stop on the way.  And Benjamin did great with being put to bed by Emy, so that's awesome.  I see many more night dates in our future...

Sunday Thomas went to work and Benjamin and I went to the Children's Museum and met Rebecca and Matthew.  It was lots of fun, except I'd forgotten my phone at home.  But we found each other eventually and had a good time.  It's amazing how on-the-go Benjamin in, I just have to run after him.  He zooms around the museum, looks at a few things, then keeps on going.  It's good for him to have space to roam, and probably good for me too.

We got home in time for lunch, which Benjamin didn't eat, then he took a nap and I made brownies in preparation for Kristin and Karl and the boys to come over.  It was their last night and since all their stuff had been shipped and packed, we thought it would be fun for the boys to play here and just get one last chance to hang out.  I picked them up around 4pm and it was great fun having the boys run around, and getting to chat with Kristin.  Thomas grilled steaks for dinner and afterward I drove them home.  I'm so bummed that they're gone, and it probably will hit me more when I want to get nails done or just have a fun playdate.  But I'm so blessed to know them, and confident we'll get to see each other again.

Monday I went to class and shopped at the co-op, as usual.  I got to rest on the couch for a while before Benjamin got up from his nap, then we played until Thomas got home.  Thankfully we had a lot of leftovers, so that made dinner super easy.  I wrote to this point in the blog and tried to add pictures, but I think Google was having issues because it was incredibly slooooooowwwwww.  So I eventually gave up before hurling my loveable MacBook Air to the ground.  Which would make me sad.

Which bring us to today, Tuesday.  Ben and I got to Spinney's pretty early, around 9:15am.  I grabbed some potatoes and other random stuff before heading back home.  After I washed some dishes and Benjamin played a bit we drove to the embassy and ran around the park a little, and saw Rebecca and Matthew again.  We hung out until Thomas came down and then we went to the cafe for lunch.  Thomas had a work hang-out in the evening so I started the Ken Burns documentary on the Shakers.  Pretty interesting so far.  I love their architecture.

My guys.

Playing with the fuzzy duck.

Check out those molars.

So handsome.

He loves this duck.

Reading "Stellaluna".

Not sure what this gesture means.

The curls are coming back!

That's it for now.  Catch ya later.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Skyfall + Turkish Bath = Awesome Day

As you can see from the title, today's been super nice.  But before we get to that, let me catch you up on this week so far...

Tuesday was fun but busy.  In the morning I met at the nearby park with Rebecca, with whom we had a playdate last week.  Then in the afternoon I caught up a little with Emily, who takes Arabic with me and Laura.  We meant to have a study session, but Laura got held up so the two of us just chatted for a while, which was nice.  After dinner I went to book club, which is always a blast.  I was nervous driving at night, but thankfully I sort-of knew where I was going, and made it without incident.

We read "What Happened to Sophie Wilder", which was interesting.  I think we all agreed that we would need to read it again, and it was helpful to discuss with other people.  One thing I dislike in fiction is when the main character is a writer.  In this book both the title character and the protagonist are writers, and it just annoys me.  I get the old adage to write what you know, but it's a little navel-gazing and pedantic.  The beginning of the book especially was a little literary-snobbish.  We get it, you like the Beats.  Congratulations.  Anyway, dismounting the soapbox.  Next up, we're reading "Gone Girl", which sounds fun.

Wednesday I had Arabic class, then ate lunch with Thomas.  We ran into Kristin and family, and decided to do an impromptu nails session that afternoon.  I ran into the co-op and bought a turkey and some other stuff for Thanksgiving.  Still in search of evaporated milk, though.  They carry condensed, of which I already have two cans.  For pumpkin pie you need evaporated, so I'm going to check around to see if any local grocery stores carry it.  Fingers crossed!

I dropped the groceries at home and made sure Emy could stay a little longer, since the nails appointment was later than I normally make.  I ran to the nails place and got started early, then Kristin came and we got to talk while getting all fancy.  They're leaving next week, so it was great to get one last mani/pedi in before they skip town.  Sniff.  I was a little late getting home, and I felt terrible because Emy had to call her sponsor to say she would be a little late getting to their house.  (She works for them in the afternoon after she leaves us.)  She said it was fine, but I hate being late for anything.  I am very much my father's daughter in that regard.

Thursday (today) was a holiday, it's Islamic New Year.  Emy came over this afternoon and Thomas and I got to see "Skyfall", the new Bond movie.  It was fantastic!  I really loved "Casino Royale", I hadn't been a big Bond person before but that totally hooked me.  And then "Quantum of Solace" was so dumb, I can't even remember the plot.  This, from the person who had the entirety of "So I Married an Axe Murderer" memorized.  I had heard good things about this installment, and it didn't disappoint.  We came home and ate dinner, then I headed out again with Kristin to a Turkish bath. 

I'd never been to a Turkish bath before, and it was a bit of an indulgence at 40JD.  But man, it was fantastic.  First you soak in a hot tub with a bottle of water, then you sit in the steam room and they bring you an icy, fruity drink.  I had to bail on the steam early, I felt like I couldn't breathe after a while.  Then they lay you out on a heated marble table and scrub you with a loofah, then a soapy pillowcase gets dropped on you and they cover you with suds.  There's a massage, and then a lady uses body scrub on you.  At the end, you're completely relaxed and soft like butter.  There's a little room where you can get hot tea and sweets at the end, but sadly they were out of sweets tonight.  It was still fun to just sit and talk, though.

It was so fun to go, and helpful that Kristin had been before and knew the ropes.  Now I'm prepared to take any female friends that might be interested!  I'm not sure I could do it very often, although there are some cheaper options without the body scrub part.  And you get to keep the loofahs that they use, which is fun.  But there were packages ranging up to 160JD, and I can't even imagine what you get for that amount of money.  (The descriptions were all in Arabic.  Maybe in two years I can read it.)

So that's the news for the week, it's great to have another long weekend and be able to chill out.  I'm grateful that Emy has been available to babysit.  I'd love to see another movie next weekend, we'll just have to see.  If "Looper" is still out, that looks pretty cool.  I know a bunch of fun stuff usually comes out in the fall.  Oh and I really want to see "Argo" too.  And naturally, the latest "Twilight" movie.  But that will most likely be a girls-only event.  :-)

Oh and yes, there are protests and things happening in Jordan over the removal of fuel subsidies.  Please pray for peace and that things won't turn violent.  Or more violent then they already have.  Thankfully everything seemed pretty normal at the mall today, but we want to be prepared for any eventuality.  I'm trying to trust that God is in control, but I also need to have a game plan for what we'd do if things get worse.  Hoping to work on that a little this weekend.  I really want to see more of Amman, but I get nervous about leaving our little enclave of Western-friendly neighborhoods.  I don't want to be ruled by fear, but I don't want to put us in any danger by being reckless or stupid.  Pray for wisdom for us, and safety.

Signing off,

Monday, November 12, 2012

Hipster Baby

I took these pictures yesterday and forgot to add them to the previous post.  The glasses are actually sunglasses (with the lenses popped out) that we got from a birthday party goody bag (thanks Gretchen!). 

Mom, I look like you!

This is what he'll look like when he's a grandpa.

You cannot resist my charms.

Who are YOU looking at?


So handsome.

Today was pretty normal, had Arabic class and lunch with Thomas, then shopped at the co-op before heading home.  I'm crossing my fingers that there will be turkeys left to buy on Wednesday.  I still need to get some green beans for the casserole, and a few other sides lined up.  For now it's just the three of us for Thanksgiving, but I'm planning to do the whole shebang in case we find people to invite before next Thursday. 

The weather here has officially turned wintery.  It's rained two days in a row (what??) and the temps are in the 60s.  Tomorrow should be sunny again and I'm so ready for it.  I've definitely gotten used to having sunshine all the time and I miss it when it leaves. 

This is a short work week, yesterday was the Veterans Day holiday and Thursday is Islamic New Year, so only three days of work.  Pretty nice.  I don't know if we'll do anything big, maybe just check out some more of Amman.  It's nice to have some hang-out time with Thomas, since he was gone all last week.  Tonight we caught up on Nashville.  I'm hoping for some more good songs, the past couple weeks haven't kept them coming. 

I'll wrap this up with today's portrait of Benjamin.

Wearing our fall outfit (cords and long sleeve T).

Check out my hair, man.

I can't believe Thanksgiving is a week away.  Where has the time gone?  I'm honestly heartbroken that I won't spend it with my family, that's usually the one guaranteed time we all get together.  What are y'all doing for the holiday?


Saturday, November 10, 2012

If Memory Serves

Hey guys,

I know I know, it's been a while.  Thomas was out of town so I decided to refrain from posting out of laziness concern for safety and such.  Now here's the hard part, remembering what we did this week...

Sunday Thomas left in the late afternoon, so we got to see him a little after lunch.  Benjamin and I had a normal evening.  Honestly he was really sweet this week, which is a gigantic blessing.  I know it doesn't sound like a big deal, but being alone with a toddler can be tough.

Letting Daddy know Benjamin misses him.

Monday I had my class, which ended up just being me and my instructor, then ate lunch on my own in the embassy cafe.  The co-op had replenished with their big quarterly stock-up, so I bought some Jiffy cornbread mix to tide me over until my long-awaited Amazon order gets here.  I got some other random stuff, then headed home.  It was great to get out on my own for a bit.  That night I decided to make my favorite cornbread and hot dog muffins.  After greasing the pan, mixing the batter and cutting the hot dogs, putting everything in the pan, I realized that the oven fuel had run out.

I was not going to let the food go to waste, so I ran upstairs and asked the Marine who answered the door if I could borrow their oven.  He said sure, but watching him light the oven was a little scary.  He lit the end of a rolled up paper towel, then set it in the oven and turned on the gas.  Yikes.  Thankfully nothing exploded.  After a while, Benjamin finally got his dinner and we settled in for the night.

Fun with blocks.


The next day I called to get a replacement gas tank and Thomas had emailed me to explain where the tanks are kept.  I walked out of the house Tuesday afternoon to try and locate our boab, who should be in charge of switching the tank over to the full one, when I saw Heidi.  She was an angel and showed me how to close off the empty tank and open the line to the full one.  Something I would never have been able to do on my own.  With that fixed, life got back to semi-normal.

Wednesday I had class again, thankfully Laura came so it wasn't one on one again.  Afterward I met up with Kristin and we got our nails done.  It was awesome to just hang out and relax for a while.  There was enough time to grab a quick lunch at the embassy after we finished, then I headed home.

Thursday morning I met up with another girl from the embassy, Rebecca, and her son at a park nearby.  I hadn't been before but it's pretty nice.  (Despite the constant annoyance of cigarette butts in the sand.  But that's ubiquitous here.  Yuck.)  We had a good time chatting and playing with the boys.  Benjamin and I left a little after noon, and had a late lunch at home.

Emy came by about 2pm so I could go shopping with Kristin in Swefieh, a crowded shopping district not far from our neighborhood.  She drove, thank goodness, since it's a little crazy.  There are a few intersections where there aren't any signs, you just make a way and go.  Naturally we passed a minor accident on the way to our destination.  Kristin wanted to pick up some souvenirs and I was happy to be introduced to some fun stores.  I ended up just looking and not buying anything, but there's lots of neat stuff to be had.  Another time, when I feel very brave, I'll go down there.  But I'll probably make Thomas drive.

Thursday about 4pm I got a wild hair and decided to take Ben to the park at the embassy, to get out of the house again and check mail.  Naturally no mail had arrived, but we got to run around the park and talk with some friends who came by as well.  I ended up eating dinner with them at the Asian Night in the cafe.  (Now that the pool is closed the Thursday night dinners are inside.)  It was really fun to be out and about, and chatting with adults. 

Friday I decided against going to church, since I'd need to hang out in the children's area anyway and wouldn't be able to listen to the sermon.  Benjamin and I were pretty house-bound, I was definitely feeling tired and lethargic.  I succumbed and put in a movie for Ben in the evening, we sat and watched a little of "Ratatouille" when I just couldn't do anything else.  He wasn't being fussy, I just had no energy.  He really was super sweet all week, and slept like a champ.  Here's hoping that trend continues!

Today we got up and just played at home until Thomas got home around 11:30am.  It was so great to see him, and Ben was pretty excited.  He'd said "Daddy" a couple times during the week, but wasn't upset about him being absent, which was really good.

After he got up from his nap this afternoon we walked to the park nearby and walked around a little.  Benjamin played a little on the see-saw (he called it the "sawsee") and Thomas tried to get him to play with his trucks in the dirt.  Ben isn't too sure about the sand, so I don't know if he's just a naturally neat kid (fingers crossed) or I'm just not giving him enough tactile experiences.  I probably need to make him a rice box or something that he can play with inside, since it's getting cooler.

I was so excited to see the weather change yesterday and today.  Most of the week it was in the high 70s/low 80s, but today was high 50s/mid 60s and cloudy until late afternoon.  I finally got to wear my new boots out to the park!  And realized that I need to buy some gel insoles if I'm going to wear them for any length of time.  Oh well, they're still super cute.

Here's an old video of Benjamin figuring out how to climb up (the right way) go down the slide in his playroom.

Hope y'all have a good Veterans Day!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Quick (like a bunny)

It's been a while, so I'll try to hit the high points.

Tuesday Benjamin and I went to the embassy to eat lunch with Thomas.  On the way out I buckled Benjamin in, then tried to start the car.  The key broke, the metal part got stuck in the ignition and the black plastic housing with the lock/unlock buttons just came apart.  Thomas was walking back in to work and I called for him to come help, so he fiddled with it and then just left to get his key from home.  While he was gone, Benjamin and I sat with the doors open because it was in the high 80s and pretty hot in the car.  Once Thomas returned, he handed off the key then walked back inside.  I turned the key, and nothing.  The battery had died.  I called Thomas again, and he magically got the car working.  After spending oodles of cash on the stupid van, this was definitely the last thing we needed.  But, new alternator it is!  (Siiiiiiiiigh.)

Wednesday (Halloween) I dressed Benjamin in his handyman costume (Carhartt overalls with Ikea toolbelt) and took him to the embassy for the buffet dinner and costume parade.  Everyone and their cousin was there, so it was hard to find a table (we ended up by the pool) and getting food took forever.  Thomas wasn't feeling great, so I ate and then Benjamin started freaking out so we had to leave before the parade.  I was really bummed, I had been looking forward to some Halloween festivities.

The only semi-decent picture I could get, it's hard to see the toolbelt.
Kristin and I were meant to meet up on Wednesday afternoon and go to a Turkish bath, where they scrub you down and it's supposed to be awesome.  Sadly her husband had been feeling poorly and ended up in the hospital for pneumonia and some other things.  Please pray for his full and speedy recovery, and for peace for their two little boys.  They are also in the process of getting ready to move back to the US, so there's another layer of stress.  Prayers all around!

As a result of the hospitalization, they were unable to host church so I volunteered our place, since we just have the one kid and therefore have less trouble getting ready for visitors.  Friday morning we had a smallish group over for the service, and the pastor administered communion.  He did two rounds so that the lady who had been helping me with the kids and I could have it too.  It had been a really long time, so it was nice to have a moment with the sacrament.  The kids did pretty well overall, and it was a great time of fellowship and hanging out.  I'm so grateful for a church family, and sweet friends.  And for talented cooks, so I can just put out veggies and dip, and they take care of the rest!  Oh and many thanks for Emy being willing to come and work this afternoon after church.  It was amazing to have the house cleaned while we rested.  What a blessing.

Tonight I finally finished the latest book club book- "What Happened to Sophie Wilder".  Kind of a downer, but interesting and has some perspective on the Catholic faith/Christianity in general.  I liked it better than "The Dog Stars", which we read last month.  I'm excited that I'm a full week ahead of schedule for reading this one.  Now I can hunt around for some more Young Adult fiction on the Arlington County website!  I may have to convince Thomas to let me get an Ereader, because reading on my phone is a bummer.  I like getting Ebooks for free from the library, but the tiny backlit screen isn't awesome.

I'll leave you with some pictures of Benjamin from a couple days ago.  Enjoy!

Ben really likes to color now, and will "ask" by pointing at the crayon box.

Short shorts!  He'll make a fine KA one day.  (Kidding!!!)

He can say purple!

He basically just draws lines right now.  But it's awesome.

This picture cracks.me.up.  Does he look like anyone from our family?  I don't know.  That's a hilarious face.

Goodnight, and have a pleasant tomorrow!