Thursday, December 20, 2012

Nine Years

Hey guys,

It's been a pretty typical week, so I'll spare you the details.  Except I did get my hair cut on Wednesday, which was very luxurious.  The hair-washing-guy gave me a 15 minute head and neck massage, and the chairs in front of the hair-washing-bowl-things were massaging chairs.  It was delightful.  And I like the guy who cut my hair, but it definitely wasn't just the trim I asked for.  He cut in lots of layers, so it feels lighter, which is good, but I'm not sure it's a flattering hairstyle.  Once I figure out how to style it myself I'll take pictures and let you be the judge. 

I also got my birthday present from Thomas, I'm not sure if it's the same ring or not, but I love it.  And today, Thursday, I got a shellac manicure to tide me over until after Christmas.

I actually wear it on my right hand, but I can't take a decent picture with my left.  
Today is my wedding anniversary with Thomas.  We've been married now for nine years (did the title give it away?).  It feels like a long time ago, but also not long at all.  From Columbia SC to Greenville SC to Arlington VA and now Amman Jordan, he's still my favorite person and the person I most want to hang out with.  I'm so blessed, he's a fantastic husband and father. 

We ate at the embassy for dinner tonight, they had traditional holiday food and some delicious desserts.  It was fun to see friends and catch up a little, then we put Benjamin to bed early.  It promises to be a relaxing evening, watching "The Wire", season four.  Happy Anniversary!

And that's it for me, I'm going to take a little break for a week or so.  Have a very Merry Christmas!  Wishing you the peace of Christ and the joy of His hope.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

What A Week

Let's begin...

Last weekend Benjamin was just getting over his cold, but then it came back even worse.  Thomas missed work on Sunday after catching it too.  It was nice to have an extra day to hang out at home, despite the continued coughing and runny noses.  I went to the embassy to pick up mail, and we finally got our new camera.  We'd pulled the trigger on it a while back, but Amazon wouldn't ship it to us, so my parents were kind enough to put it in a box and mail it to us.  Thanks, parents!

Our Christmas tree, decorated.

Monday Thomas went back to work and I had class, then ate lunch at the embassy as usual.  I did a lot of running around grocery stores because I hosted book club Tuesday night.  I went to Safeway for the first time, and I was embarrassed I hadn't gone before, after seeing how easy it was to get to.  They had a lot of Christmas stuff, specifically candy canes, which I needed for some peppermint chex mix which I made for book club.

Book club was super fun, I completely overdid it on the food.  I made a cheese ball and put almonds on it so it looked like a pinecone.  It was a huge hit.  I also made this cheesy sausage dip, which is my favorite thing ever.  I found this recipe for mini fruit cups, and I'm totally addicted now.  I also made them for church on Friday morning, and there were no leftovers.  I just used kiwis and strawberries, since it's Christmas and I wanted red and green.  But I'm sure they'd taste awesome with an assortment of different fruit.

I put the crackers on the silver platter, but didn't get a picture.

I'm so proud of myself for making this.  Even though it was stupid easy.

We talked about "Gone Girl" and random stuff, then decided to read "Sweet Tooth" by Ian McEwan for next month.  I'm excited, the only thing I've read by him is "Atonement" and I loved it.  The ending was shocking, so I'm looking forward to this next one. 

Wednesday I woke up with the awful cold, but suffered through and went to class.  I was so relieved to come home to a clean house.  Emy did the dishes from the night before, which was amazing.  I went to see Emily, from my Arabic class, and her new little girl Charlotte, and it was so nice to see a teeny baby.  I'd completely forgotten how small they are!  Too cute.  I didn't stay long, and I kept my distance to keep from spreading my germs around.  Hopefully when I'm better we can hang out some more.  Afterwards I went to the grocery store and fruit guy, and I was totally excited that he had cilantro.  Such a relief, I wanted it for chili and hadn't seen it at Spinny's, which usually has everything.

Thursday I got nails done and then cooked some food in preparation for Friday morning.  The girl who I went with and I both got glitter top layers on our ring fingers.  The nail lady said it was a thing, and I like it.  Not sure I'll get it again, but it's fun for now.  Very festive. 

Yay for long-ish nails!

Friday we hosted church and I made chicken chili and the fruit puffs.  I also served the rest of the cheese ball, which went pretty quickly.  It was fun having everyone here and I think it went pretty smoothly.  I was in the kitchen most of the time, chopping up fruit and toppings for the chili.  I had asked Emy to come help clean up at 12:30, but people were hanging out and talking, so she came in and started washing dishes while people were still here.  (I had used my Christmas plates instead of paper, so there were lots more dishes than usual.)

After everyone left, Thomas and I tried to pick up as much as possible, then rested during Ben's nap.  I woke up about 3:30, and everything was clean and she had gotten Benjamin up from his nap.  It was glorious to have a clean house after the chaos and mess of church.  After she left, we just hung out until I left to go to a cookie decorating party hosted by a friend who lives around the corner. 

That was really fun.  She had made a ton of cookie dough and we cut out cute shapes and had a blast with frosting and decorating.  I met a few new ladies and had lots of fun getting some girl time.  I finally made it home about 7pm, and Thomas was ready to let me take over putting Benjamin to bed.

Today, Saturday, was really low key and nice.  I slept until 11:15, and Thomas told me that Benjamin slept until 10:30.  That is completely unheard of, but it must be the cold.  I think we're finally getting better, I don't wake up hacking in the middle of the night anymore.  Fingers crossed it will finally go away. 

This afternoon we went to a Christmas party and saw some embassy people.  Benjamin was really clingy but eventually would wander away for a minute and then come back, mostly to eat raisins.  We stayed until 7pm, then came home to put him to bed.  I'm so glad that we've done Christmassy things, it definitely puts me in the Christmas mood.  Weirdly the weather has been a little warm, so it hasn't felt super festive.  I'm sure that will change in January, the rainy season is coming.   

Here are some tree close-ups to end this gigantic post.

My maternal grandma would make ornaments every year.  This is one.

Salt crystal snowflake.

One of my favorites that my Grandma did.  Key and house.

Benjamin loves this elephant, he'll run to the tree and when he finds it, yells "elphant!".  I love him.

I hope y'all are getting excited for Christmas!


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Birthday Weekend

Hello there,

Down to business.  Thursday was my 32nd birthday, but it was mostly a normal Thursday.  Thomas went to work, Benjamin and I had a playdate at the embassy playground (which we were super late for, he actually slept in until 9am) and then ate lunch with Thomas.  I begged him to come home and he took off early, which was awesome.  I had planned to nap while Benjamin was down, but ended up just surfing the internet and hanging out.

After Benjamin woke up we did "stocking" presents, since I'm trying to spread out the excitement and not just have one day full of stuff.  And Thomas and I opened a Christmas present each, then I opened my birthday present.  (The back-up, since my big present was squashed.)  I got Ben some cute socks from Land's End, but they're too big.  Oh well.  And he opened a box of Ikea train stuff, some extra tracks and bridges and a couple more train cars.  It's been fun playing with him, he's getting a little more interested in it.

Heart, melted.

The handsomest men in the world!

Big socks.

Is this for me?

Hmm, what could this be?

We also opened the gift from Aunt Marian.  Thanks!  Benjamin loves the puzzle.  :-)

We ate dinner at the embassy, it was Tex-Mex night.  We got there right before a tree lighting celebration, there was a kids choir that sang carols and they had hot cider.  It was super cute.  After the tree lights came on we headed inside for dinner, it was getting chilly out.  (Low 50s.  I know, bring on the parkas.)  The food was passable and it was nice to see random friends out and about.  We went home and settled in to watch TV on Hulu.

Friday we made it to church finally, and it was fun to see everyone and catch up a bit.  I stayed with Benjamin and the kids, but it was a good time to talk with a couple other moms.  Hopefully I can get into the sermon next week.  We ate lunch as usual and then headed home. 

While Ben napped, I went out with a girl from book club to Swefieh, a dense shopping neighborhood close by.  (Baraka mall, where we see our movies, is in Swefieh.)  We went into a spice and nuts store, I got some roasted almonds and cashews and pistachios.  They were a little pricey, but delicious.  We stopped in a couple housewares stores that had Christmas items, a surprise.  I thought about getting a tablecloth or something, but I decided to wait.  Nothing is nearly as cute as something from Target, so I might just get something on sale after Christmas and save it for next year.  I'm kicking myself for not bringing any table linens.  Argh.

Later the four of us went out for dinner to the Jalapeno Grill place, which was great.  The salsa is the best I've had here.  We hung out and had the run of the place, since no locals eat dinner until 8pm.  They give you lots of food, I ended up getting most of mine to go.  It was a fun day, but it felt busy compared to our normal house-bound weekend.

Saturday, today, Thomas let me sleep in/stay in bed until 11am, which was glorious.  We really took it easy, except for eating lunch out at Taj Mall and shopping at Spinneys.  Benjamin was quite a handful, I think we're getting into the toddler phase of not being able to sit still at a restaurant for any length of time.  There weren't any movies out that we wanted to see, otherwise I would have had Emy babysit.  Maybe next weekend. 

Benjamin went down late for his nap, close to 2pm instead of 1pm.  And he had some attitude this evening.  He's understanding more than he can communicate and he gets so frustrated.  I got some "new" books (thanks, Sarah and Cassondra!) from a storage shelf in the playroom to add to the rotation, and he now loves "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom".  We read it three times just tonight.  I need to start rotating toys and books more so he gets some variety.  Otherwise he'll ask for Frog and Toad, Olivia and the big Richard Scarry Word Book over and over.  My brain starts to liquefy after a while with all the repetition. 

I had been excited to teach him some letters and numbers, along with colors and shapes.  But I got caught in an internet wormhole of opinions, where one site advocated waiting on that stuff until after they can communicate effectively their wants and needs.  What have y'all done with your almost-2s?  I don't want to make him memorize stuff just so I feel like I'm being a successful parent.  But I also don't want to be too neglectful.  Thoughts?

Tonight we're just hanging out and taking it easy.  Poor Thomas is coming down with a raging cold, his voice has turned very froggy in the space of an afternoon.  I'm going to try and avoid catching it, since one parent at a time is more than enough.  Thankfully Benjamin seems to be totally over his sickness, his nose didn't run at all today.  Hooray!  But his teething might be back in full force, at least that's how I'm justifying his brattiness tonight.  Sigh.

I'm glad for this past year, despite the events in September.  I'm grateful for my God, my family and my friends.  I'm thankful for general good health, and praying hard for another baby in my 32nd year.  Feel free to join me.  :-)


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Last Post...

...From my 31-Year Old Self.

Hey there,

This week's been fun.  Monday instead of class (our teacher was sick) Laura and Emily and I met to study.  I was able to complete the homework due that day (perfect timing) and hang out with them, which was great.  We ate lunch together too, with Emily's husband.  It turned out that she had her baby that night, so I'm glad we got to chat a bit before she disappeared into the craziness of new parenthood.  I'll hopefully get to meet the baby in January, I'm a fan of the hands-off approach for the first few weeks after a friend gives birth

Tuesday I took Benjamin to the playground at the embassy in the morning so we could get out of the house and also eat lunch with Thomas afterward.  A few Christmas presents from my parents showed up, which is exciting.  Thomas hates wrapping things, but I refuse to wrap a present for myself.  So I'll end up with a garbage bag plus bow under the tree.  My birthday present came, but had been literally run over by a truck (there were tire marks on the envelope) so Thomas mailed it back to the lady to fix.  I know it'll be at least a month before we get it back, since I'm sure she's very busy with Christmas orders.  Oh well.  I get the fun of anticipation for a little while longer.

Thanks a lot, United States Postal Service.  Sigh.

So sad!  Poor ring.

Eek.  I hope she can fix it!

Today I intended to skip Arabic class and go to the women's coffee thing at the Ambassador's residence, but my hair wasn't cooperating (taking too long to dry) so I just stayed home and then ate lunch with Thomas.  It's so nice to be able to see him for lunch most days, I'm going to be super spoiled by the time we leave.

Benjamin's had a cold for about the past week, and his nose is super crusty and gross.  I've been chipping away at it and he's started saying "gunky" after I used that word to describe his nose.  Too funny.  And he knows the number 5, he'll bring me the refrigerator magnet and say "five".  I'm constantly amazed at how much he's absorbing.  He repeats a lot of what I say, which is adorable.  But I need to watch what I say in the car, I call people idiots way too often.

I've been reading "Outlander" on my Christmas present from Thomas, a Nook.  I opened it early so I could read "Gone Girl" for book club.  And I'd heard good things about it from lots of people, so I borrowed it from Arlington library's electronic lending catalog.  Yay for free stuff!  I don't know that I would pay money for it, it's a little silly but fun and the author is good at description and making you feel like you're invested in the characters.  It's a little steamier than what I typically pick to read, so be warned if you decide to read it. 

Yeah, tomorrow is my birthday.  I don't know if it's hormonal or what, but I've been a little sad recently.  And today playing with Benjamin I started thinking about turning 32 and not being pregnant, and being far from home and family, and cried a little.  (Not that I would see family on my birthday anyway, but I'm usually looking forward to Christmas and spending it with my parents.)  If we were in Arlington, Alison would babysit Benjamin and we would eat at Ray's the Steaks (which is amazing).  Not that this is worse, it's just different.  Time to suck it up.

See you on the other side,

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Random Stuff

Hi there,

It's been a good day.  Benjamin woke up at 8am, which was pretty good for him being sick.  I finally got tired of his hair needing some touching up in the back and gave him a quick trim.  The first picture is an old one.

Notice the line on the back of his head from where I cut it the first time.

It looks more blended now, like a normal haircut.

He was pretty fussy in the morning, though.  I decided to take him to the embassy for lunch to have a change of scene.  We met up with Thomas and had a good time, then headed home so Benjamin could take a nap.  I went through the blog and tried to update any links back to old posts.  It took a while, and then he woke up. 

Lately Benjamin's been loving "Stellaluna" and Richard Scarry's "Big Word Book".  I think he's recognizing more letters and numbers, but I'm not very diligent about going through with him on any sort of schedule.  I want him to just play and we'll start working on "school" later.  But we read a lot and I'll ask him to tell me the colors of his crayons and letter magnets.  He does really well, so that's exciting.  I know there's a whole world of pre-preschool stuff I could be doing, but I'm loath to get too crazy about that stuff.  Hopefully we have another year or so before that will be a major part of our lives. 

This afternoon I went around the house, figuring out where we should hang our art.  Since I'm hosting book club next, I want to make the house look a little more put-together.  And it just needs to happen, so our pictures aren't just sitting on couches and looking forlorn.  I put my Barcelona painting over the fireplace in the family room, and I like it.  It helps the stockings look less lonely.

People always comment on the typewriter, which was decoration for a long time until Benjamin starting playing with it.

I got the boots for Benjamin for the winter rainy season.  He likes wearing them in the house.

I finally bought some silver polish at the grocery store a couple days ago and today I polished some serving dishes my mom had given me ages ago.  (Again, in preparation for book club.)  And I also cleaned up a ring that I wore constantly many years ago.  I'm positive that I bought it in Columbia, probably at Handpicked (the shop for sorority girls); it's monogrammed of course.  This picture is proof that my nails are finally recovering from my relapse a month or so ago.

I can't believe it's December, and my birthday is imminent.  Thirty-two.  It's not young, but it's not old.  I have so much to be grateful for, but I keep thinking about being older and not pregnant.  Ugh.  I need to give it/everything to God and just trust His plan, whatever it may be.  But I'm really clinging to some grief or anger, or something.  I want what I want.  I think what I need is patience.  Right now.  :-)  Ok, time to wrap it up.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

New Name, Same Game

First on the agenda, I've changed the URL for this blog to, so that it matches the title.  Hoping to make things easier.

Secondly, let me say that it's tough to root for Alabama, but I just find it impossible to pull for Georgia in the SEC championship game tonight.  I'm sad that it starts too late for us to watch it (11pm).  Also I'm very proud of the USC Gamecocks this year, we did great and there's not much better than beating Clemson for the fourth year in a row.  Go Cocks!

And back to the recap.  Wednesday I had class then ate lunch with Emily, which was really fun.  I love getting out a couple times a week and having adult conversations. 

Thursday Benjamin and I went grocery shopping, then ate lunch with Thomas at the embassy.  Emy came and babysat for a couple hours so I could get nails done with Heather and Emily.  I'm glad that I was able to get them done, since Kristin left I wasn't sure anyone would want to be my nail buddy.  And now I feel much better, with pretty nails.  A while back I bit them back down, but they're slowly growing back. 

After Benjamin woke up from his nap we went to the embassy again to play outside and met up with friends.  We ate dinner in the club, it was surf and turf night.  I got the salmon, which was pretty bad.  Too much salty sauce-stuff.  I used to cook salmon all the time, nothing fancy, just baked in the oven and served with broccoli and rice.  I'm a little suspicious of the fish here, but I just need to try some of the frozen stuff.  I think that might be safer. 

Friday we skipped church yet again, since Benjamin was sick and we didn't want to infect the other kids (and adults).  We hung out at home and let Benjamin just cough and sneeze everywhere.  I stayed up unwisely late (2:30am) reading the latest book club pick: "Gone Girl".  It was pretty good, sort of a thriller/mystery.  The ending is a little flat, but I liked it.  

Today, Saturday, Thomas let me sleep in since I was wrecked, which was fantastic.  And Benjamin slept until 9am, so that was a nice surprise.  He's still sick, snotty and crusty and pretty fussy most of the time.  Thomas gets the husband of the year award for letting me go out to see the last Twilight movie with a girlfriend tonight, and eat dinner out afterward.  We found a pretty decent Mexican place and had a good time just chatting.  Yay for girls nights. 

Now Thomas and I are watching "Friends with Kids" and chilling out.  It's been a good weekend, despite Benjamin's fussiness.  Now I need to go back through the blog and change any links I had to previous posts.  Blerg.


New Blog URL

Hey guys,

Quick post to say that I've changed the URL from to in the interest of streamlining.  Everything else is the same.

Happy December!