Friday, May 31, 2013

Scrapes and Swimming

Tuesday I took Benjamin for his first official swimming lesson.  A friend had set up a group lesson with one of the lifeguards at the embassy, a really nice guy named Ali.  He's done lessons for older kids and this was an experiment for toddlers and the younger-ish crowd.  Benjamin loves going in the pool, but I'd like for him to start getting comfortable with the motions of swimming and going underwater.  On the way to the car, he fell and scraped his knees, which was a first.  He got all scraped up and we had to go back inside to wash his legs before hurrying back to the car and rushing over to the embassy.

Happy despite booboos.

Sad knees.

After getting us both covered in sunscreen we joined the rest of the group.  It was rough, Ali blew in the kids faces and totally dunked them under, one at a time, over and over, until everyone was screaming and crying.  Benjamin totally lost it, he kept crying to "get out the water" which was heartbreaking, but I kept him in the whole lesson, maybe 25 minutes.  Afterwards we hung out in the kiddie pool for a few minutes.  Part of the problem was probably the temperature, it was maybe 70 degrees when we got in and the water was super chilly.

We tried it again Wednesday with warmer weather, and a couple of the moms had some songs ready to make it less of a traumatic event.  Benjamin still screamed and fussed, but mostly because Thomas had come down to see the debacle and Benjamin wanted him to take him into the water.  Hopefully the next time will be smooth sailing.  It definitely made an impression, Benjamin kept talking about going "under" (the water) and swim lessons.

In other news, please pray for Thomas's dad; he was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and will begin chemotherapy soon.  It seems to be contained and in early stages, and they'll do surgery after chemo, so it sounds positive but obviously we're praying that God will grant full healing.  Please pray for complete eradication of the cancer and hope and strength during treatment, for his dad and mom.  It sucks to be so far away when things are tough back home, but God is big and we trust in Him.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Embracing Hippiedom

After barely tolerating the awful local bread for the past 9 months, I finally decided to make my own.  Benjamin has been on a little bit of an eating strike, I think he must be slowing down growth-wise because he's definitely not eating as much as he was a couple months ago.  Part of it I attribute to the bread going rock-hard 5 minutes after it touches his plate and since he now takes 45 minutes to eat a meal, he wasn't eating very much in the way of sandwiches, which is the default snack.  Many months ago we'd bought our friends' used KitchenAid stand mixer, the larger model, since I'd left mine in storage.  It's been helpful for basic stuff like mixing cake batter, but now it's getting some real use.

A friend gave me an excellent recipe and tips on where to find ingredients, and I plunged in.  I was amazed at how straightforward it was, the time-consuming part is just measuring and getting everything ready to mix.  The mixer is amazing and kneads away, and I do a couple turns by hand just for fun at the end.  I've made two batches so far, and both turned out edible.  I took forever deciding what loaf pans to get, but I settled on two of these cheapish ones and they are awesome.  So I guess I'm turning into a hippie, but decent bread is totally worth it.

First batch, second was basically identical.  Mmm I might make more tomorrow...

Straight out of the oven, before getting washed.  Definitely nonstick!

A few days ago I took Benjamin to the pool by myself for a playdate with friends, and it was really fun.  I was nervous about schlepping all the pool paraphernalia by myself but we made it and had a great time.  Benjamin loves talking about the process of getting ready for the pool, which involves "swim diaper, swim trunks, tiny shirt (rash guard) and scunscreen".  He's such a hoot.  He doesn't swim on his own at all, but I've ordered the arm-swimmy-floaty things and hopefully that will help him be more adventurous.  Benjamin took a great nap that day, so we'll have to make a regular habit of morning pool time, especially now it's in the 80s every day.

This past weekend Thomas and I went to see Iron Man 3, which was really fun.  It had been a while since we had a "day date" and it was nice to get away for a bit and relax and just enjoy the silliness of an action movie.  I really want to see Star Trek and loads of the other fun movies coming out this summer.  I hope Emy is up for lots of babysitting!

Also over the weekend I took the traditional glucose test for pregnant people, to determine if I'm at risk for gestational diabetes.  It's not a big deal, just time-consuming as you have to drink a full glass of sugar water and then sit for an hour, then get blood drawn.  Back home I remember getting a choice of orange or fruit punch flavor, but here you just get the clear glass of glucose.  It was a chore chugging it down and I honestly thought I'd pass out while I was sitting and waiting.  But thankfully the results were normal, which is great because I don't ever want to do the longer test which involves fasting.

24ish weeks.  Excuse the bad lighting, hair, mess, etc.

I had a doctor's appointment today and it was reassuring to see the baby's heart and watch him wiggle a little.  He's pretty active these days, which is always fun.  It hasn't gotten too uncomfortable or awkward yet, the worst is waking up to turn over in bed and also having blocked nasal passages in the middle of the night.  Now that Benjamin is over his cold I'm going to move the humidifier into our room so I can hopefully sleep a full night without needing to blow my nose a hundred times.

That's the news for now!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

Today I am so grateful for my mom, and Thomas's mom, and all my mom friends who have given me lots of advice and support.  It's definitely a day to celebrate, but I also know that lots of women aren't celebrating, either because their moms are gone or lots of other reasons.  So I don't want to be exclusionary and only talk about the mom experience, except to say that I am immensely grateful for Benjamin and the little baby in my tummy.  And I look forward to meeting the baby we lost, someday, in Heaven.

In fun news, Benjamin is obsessed with Goliath.  We read him a chapter from the Jesus Storybook Bible every night (along with Goodnight Moon) and he always asks for Goliath.  Hilarious.  I don't know how to explain that he's actually the bad guy in the story.

Action shot.

Handsome boy.

I washed Benjamin's South Carolina Gamecocks hat so it sort-of fits now, but still a bit big.  Definitely adorable though.  We swam at the embassy pool the past couple weekends, which was great.  We like to eat dinner at the snack bar, we can dry off a little before heading home, and I don't have to cook.  It's awesome.

Enjoying the kiddie pool.

We're gearing up for the summer season of goodbyes.  It's sad to see lots of friends go, but exciting to have met so many cool people.  Thank goodness for Facebook!  This past weekend I went to a fabulous baby shower and really enjoyed eating, visiting, eating some more, and celebrating a fantastic lady and her soon-to-arrive baby girl.  Man, I ate so much.  

Today was a little stressful, Benjamin has had a cold for almost a week now and it's turned into the breathing issue we've had before.  I gave him three nebulizer treatments today.  I'll see how he's doing tomorrow and might take him to the embassy clinic, I just get so nervous when he sounds awful and seems crankier than usual.  Poor buddy.

I'm feeling large and in charge these days, even though I'm only 23ish weeks.  Yikes!  Time is going by fast, we'll be in SC before you know it.  I can't wait!  Although it'll be a zoo trying to see everyone, I'll be glad to have a break from the Middle East.  

Benjamin's face here is hilarious.

Big.  Belly.

Over and out,

Sunday, May 5, 2013


Even before we started fertility back in 2010 I had been nervous about miscarriage and found it astounding that so many women had lived through it and were fairly nonchalant (or so I thought) when relating their stories.  It seemed like the absolute worst experience imaginable, and I couldn't even comprehend how you would move on from such a tragedy. 

Cut to September of 2012 and it happened.  I remember just sitting and crying after coming home from the doctors office, not being able to even tell Thomas that the baby was gone.  I despaired of ever having more children, and of ever affording to adopt.  But God is such a healer, and over time it's become just part of my story.  I would have been due in April, and though I'm sad that I won't get to meet that person until Heaven, this current pregnancy has done so much to heal that hurt.  I know if we were doing fertility and all that again I would still be angry and frustrated.  I don't deserve this particular blessing, but I'm so thankful for God and His goodness in all areas of my life.

In happier and sillier news, Benjamin is definitely growing.  He's moved into some size 7W shoes I got from Goodwill ages ago that are boat shoes.  He's the cutest and preppiest two-year-old.  I'm really excited about being back in the States soon so I can go thrifting and maybe find him or baby brother some more fun clothes.  It's the cheapest way to indulge my shopping habit. 

I'll also be super pumped to buy nail polish, it won't ship here because of flammability and I'm ready for some new colors.  I could probably find a store with lots of variety here, but I wouldn't know where to start.  Target, watch out. 

As for the decision to stay in the States and have the baby there, I'm mostly decided on coming back to Jordan.  I can't imagine being so far apart from Thomas for that long.  Unless something drastic happens in the next weeks, I'm hoping we'll be here.  Pray for continued wisdom and safety, and a swift end to the violence in Syria.

As it's almost summer, lots of people are gearing up to move on to another posting, so we're saying goodbye to some friends.  It's weird to think we've almost been here a year, and so many friends are leaving.  But it's been amazing to meet these cool people and hopefully maintain those friendships over long distance.  Thanks, Facebook!  Hopefully we can be welcoming to the next crop of people and make new friends, at least before the baby comes and I'm back in survival mode for three to six months.  Trying not to think about how awful life will be with no sleep and two kids...

That's it for now,

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Decisions, Decisions

Hey gang,

This past weekend my brother, Joel, came to visit, which was really fun.  He's the first family to make the trek and we tried to squeeze a lot into just three days.  From the airport (which is new and super nice!) we drove to Petra, about a three hour drive.  I packed lunch and drinks since there's not a whole lot on the highway, some gas stations but that's it.  We got in about 2pm and checked into the Movenpick, which was pretty nice and across from the entrance to the historical site.  The guys took off while Benjamin and I napped, which worked perfectly.  They were able to see quite a bit, from the Treasury (which was featured in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade") up to the Monastery. 

Walking through the Siq.

Glimpse of the Treasury.

The Monastery.

Joel treated us to dinner at the rooftop restaurant and it was so nice to sit out at sunset and eat good food and just relax.  The next day we checked out and drove off to the Dead Sea.  I had mapped out what seemed to be the quicker route, following a different highway, but sadly, there was no shortcut and it ended up taking around five hours.  It was excruciating, made worse by the second-world bathroom facilities along the way.  (Pro tip- bring your own toilet paper, and prepare to squat over a hole in the ground.) 

After many hours and much annoyance and frustration, we made it to the Dead Sea Marriott.  I love this hotel, it's so nice and luxurious.  We arrived about 3pm, so I ordered room service for lunch and hung out while Benjamin napped and the guys made it down to the Dead Sea for some floating.  I enjoyed a leisurely shower and some cable TV before we went to dinner.  Thomas and I took Benjamin to the "sports bar" restaurant, which is the only one open before 7pm.  Joel had dinner with a friend who was in town, so he got to escape the fussiness that was Benjamin. 

The next day we went back home to Amman and got settled in, Joel did some solo sightseeing while Thomas and Benjamin and I napped.  Emy was kind and came to babysit in the evening so the adults could go get dinner, we ate at a Chinese place, Ren Chai, which was delicious.  Then Monday I took Joel to the embassy and we met Thomas for lunch.  Joel and I took a quick trip to Rainbow St. to see a slice of downtown then headed home.  Joel got a cab to the airport and left about 3pm, so it was a very quick trip but so nice to have him visit.  Benjamin warmed up to him pretty quickly, and was excited about his new toys.  Thanks, Uncle Joel and Aunt Cassondra!  Looking forward to more family (and friends) coming to visit, hopefully!

Benjamin sporting his new USC hat, which is sadly a little too big, at least right now.

Me at 22ish weeks.  Behind me on the bed you can see the new raccoon loveys for the baby.

Now down to business.  We're excited to be going home in June for R&R, and even though the flight will be awful and jetlag will be the absolute worst, I know it'll be a great time.  I'm not sure whether or not I should just stay, with Benjamin, at my parents' house until the baby comes.  We had planned to stay in Amman for the birth, since medical care here is good.  But with Syria seeming to get even worse and amid mounting uncertainty, I'm feeling a little nervous about staying.  But then again, living apart from Thomas and being a single mom for 3-4 months isn't enticing.  Anyway, please pray that we would have wisdom and that God would really guide our decision.  And if you have experience or advice that applies, please share!

Trying not to be a big ball of stress,