He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress and for his children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

Friday, October 30, 2009

Birthdays, birthdays, birthdays

I grew up with family gatherings being a regular part of life, especially for birthdays.  One of my favorite things about our vacations in America is when we are able to gather the whole family- aunts, uncles, cousins,grandparents and great-grandparents so that the girls can get that sense of our greater family that I grew up being so accustomed to.  This year we had the chance to celebrate both Maddie (see left) and Abbey's birthdays with family.   Maddie actually got a celebration in Memphis as well as in Rome since we were there for her actual birthday.  We also got to join in the fun with Sarah Ann's birthday

Memommy with all of the cousins

Cousin Sarah Ann celebrating her 4th birthday.  Sarah Ann's grandparents have a pool in their backyard in Memphis and our girls loved getting to go over there and swim.  Thanks Nan and Pops!  It was a real treat for them to be able to swim in a backyard pool as all they have none is massive swimming pools on the beaches in Lebanoncrammed with people.

Uncle Tom tormented me (in the best possible way) as a child and I love that my girls get to experience tickle monster like I did.  Thankfully his hands are a bit more gentle as a dentist.

The girls LOVED going for rides in Uncle Tom's convertible.  Even Naomi now points out convertibles whenever we are driving around the city "like Uncle Tom's"

AJ's 10th birthday party with the family in Memphis.

Below is Maddie's party with the Cox side of the family in Georgia;

Monday, October 26, 2009

School room

As of September, our guest room has officially been transformed into a school room with the beginning of our first year of homeschooling. We lent our loveseat out to some dear friends, brought the girls desk in, added a few calendars and time lines, and voila, a school room. All in all, things are going so great with the school year which is totally a God thing. The girls love it and are thriving (I hope). I occasionally have moments of panic when I think "what in the world am i thinking that I am capable of doing this??", but God always reminds me that it is Him, not me- thank goodness! The girls are incredible- they amaze me everyday, they really do. I'm sure there are things along the way that I am forgetting or neglecting in some way or leaving out, but overall I think they are probalby smarter than me, so they will make up for it!

Even Naomi is joining in and doing so great. Her table is normally where Maddie is sitting above in the first picture. It's really been amazing to me how long she will sit at her little table and work on writing letters or looking at her books. Occasionally she will pipe in asking a question about whatever we've been talking about. It blows my mind how she can follow the story line of the books we're reading or the places we're talking about. For example, yesterday when we were talking about the Mayan Indians and looking at the map, she pipes in with, "Mommy did you say Indians? Where is Guatemala?" One of her favorite activities has become "playing library". She pulls up her chair to the bookshelf and proceeds not only to read the books but also to arrange and re-arrange them.

The girls do most of their work at the desk (first picture) but Maddie especially occasionally needs to move around the room. We put our weekly prayer requests on the pink dry erase board in the window, and I write their daily assignments on the blue board so that they can keep up with what they need to be doing if I get tied up with one or the other.

It's kind of dark, but to the right is our B.C. timeline that we are working on all year along with the "Mystery of History" curriculum that combines world history and Biblical history . We have all loved it.

We've got a lot of space on the walls of our built in closets to post school work and things like that. So far we've just got a few Science projects and our A.D. timeline that we are using along with our Sonlight history curriculum. We're studying American History this year and I've been pleasantly surprised with how well the girls are repsonding to learning history which in the past has been met with moans and groans!

"Somefing healfee"

So, healthy food has kind of been a hot topic around our house the last few months. Jason and I have both been trying to lose the weight we gained after two months in the USA with endless Chick-Fil-A and Memphis barbecue. Also, I've realized what a HUGE difference the breakfast my girls eat makes in their ability to concentrate on school work through the morning. Especially Maddie- seriously she could be like a case study or something for high protein meals. The difference between a sugary cereal and something like a hard boiled egg or peanut butter toast is truly phenomenal. But I digress... I'm prompted to tell you all this in order to give you the background for Naomi's quote for the day. Jason, Abbey, Maddie and I were sitting at the dining room table playng a game after supper, and I heard the refrigerator open and stuff being moved around. I went into the kitchen and there stands Naomi holding my massive bag of Nestle chocolate chips from Sam's. She hold it out to me and says, "I'm still hungry". Unfortunatley for her, she had eaten a great supper but had also already had dessert. So I take the bag from her and started to tell her that she couldn't have the chocolate but she could have banana, apple, pear... Well, I barely had the words out of my mouth when she slumps her shoulders and drops her head as only three year old Naomi can and lets out a hugs sigh. "But Mommy," she says, "I don't WANT somefing healfee!"

Friday, October 23, 2009

A pirate tea party

Jason's sister Amanda's son Caleb turned two in the spring so he is about a year younger than Naomi. The two have met before as babies, but this year they really hit it off, and we just had two many cute pictures of the two of them together not to dedicate an entire post to them. It was so funny watching them play and interact. I think Caleb just loved having someone closer to his age, and Naomi loved being the oldest for once and able to boss someone around who was too easy going to mind.

To the far right they were playing so hard that day outside in the driveway. None of the adults could ever figure out exactly what they were doing, but it was obvious that Naomi was very much in charge...

Such sweethearts!

The farm boots totally make the pictures!!

There's a place in Rome called Kangaroo Jakes which is basically a big warehouse filled with inflatables for kids to go crazy on. Naomi and Caleb were both a little small for the rough play of the older cousins, but they obviously had a blast together!

The best of both worlds

Unlike the Cameron family who have lived in the same house for 30+ years, the Cox family has constantly been on the move. In the last year, they (Nana and Papa) have settled on a beautiful piece of land just outside Rome, GA, that the family now affectionately refers to as "the farm". We all got to visit for the first time this summer, and it quickly became yet another home away from home for us. Jason's sister, Amanda, her husband Jeff, and their 4 kids live nearby in Rome, so, like Memphis, Rome was a constant cousin party. Between Memphis and "the farm" we really feel like we have the best of both worlds. I know Memphis is not a big city by many standards but it does offer a lot of big city type activities- the zoo, the childrens' museum, the Botanic gardens, Autozone park etc. Armuchee, GA on the other hand, well, it's about as country as you can get, and we had a blast experiencing both worlds.

The farm is divided into sections. To the left is the pond that is situated at the bottom kind of in the middle of the cow pasture. Poor Jason was hoping for some good fishing and basically got a crowd of kids and what he started referring to as "Papa's petting zoo". Every time we would go down to fish, we would be followed by three baby calves, two ducks, 8 ducklings, several goats- it just wasn't very conducive to fishing especially when the ducklings started going for the minnows. But the kids had a blast! Notice the black boots that everyone is wearing. Nana has the garage stocked with boots in every size so that all the kids and grandkids will be properly outfitted in farm attire. Also you'll notice in several pictures the orange Kuboda- the preferred method of farm transportation. Even Abbey was driving (with a little help) by the end of our stay.

The barn is about halfway up the driveway and is home to the animal feed, the farm equipment, the playground for the grandkids, and the measuring post to keep up with everyone's height.

Naomi proudly measuring at Papa's post

Nana enjoying a picnic in the treehouse with the cousins

From blueberry picking to cutting okra to caring for the farm animals, the girls got a taste of so many fun things, but I think the favorite by far was the animals. From "Snowball" the duckling to "Laverne" the goat, I think Papa would have a hard time arguing that his farm is not somewhat of a petting zoo as Jason said in frustration while trying to fish. Enjoy the below pictures of the cousins and the animals and stay tuned for more pictures and stories from our summer.

I almost forgot to complete your tour of the farm. At the top of the driveway is Papa and Nana's beautiful new home, which I somehow managed not to get any pictures of! The best I can do is the flower garden just outside the back door...


One thing that we've always tried to instill in our girls is that home is less about a certain place and more about our family being together. Home is wherever we are together. We lead a very mobile life-it's just how things are, and we want them to have a sense of home wherever our family might be. Actually, we've been in Beirut for going on 6 years now, which is the longest we 've lived in one place in our almost 15 years of marriage. I believe this about home, I really do, and I think we've done a pretty good job of creating "home" wherever we might be. That said, however, there is something about the little piece of the world located at the corner of Woodview and Essexshire in Memphis, TN, that will forever and always be home to me. No matter how much we kid my parents about getting out of the house they've been in for 30 + years, a huge part of me is oh so thankful that they are still right there. I love that I have so many childhood memories in this place that in little spurts every few years, my kids are having the chance to duplicate. The amount of land that this modest little house in Memphis takes up, would probably house a 10 story apartment buidling with two families per floor in the Middle East where we live. It's a very welcome green space that we are still so thankful to call home in Memphis.

A time honored family tradition in the Cameron home is summer meals on the screened in side porch. Somehow it always seems to work even in the heat of summer. This is the first year that I remember our girls actually liking barbecue and I was so proud! Memphis barbecue and Chick-Fil-A are always are two must haves when we come to the US.

This may be a thing of the past, but I loved washing the cars in the driveway when I was little. This is something my girls had never done and Dad was more than happy to introduce them to the concept!

In my opinion, no summer is complete without a great romp through the sprinkler and that is one thing the girls got plenty of this summer- again- so many memories of doing the exact same thing!

One of my favorite childhood memories from family gatherings is playing croquet in Memommy and Grandaddy's front yard. I don't know that all the aunts and uncles loved it as much as the kids, but I remember it to be a near perfect event everytime we played. The girls really enjoyed figuring out the game of croquet is Annie and Da's front yard this summer. It was mostly pretty tame, and we only had to intervene once when they decided the mallets might be good Star Wars light sabers. Overall it was a huge hit and just as fun as I remember.

Slumber parties of all shapes and sizes have been happening at the Cameron house for as long as I can remember, and this summer was definitely no exception. The girls were thrilled to have Sarah Ann sleep over at any and every opportunity.

No night was complete without Sarah Ann and Thomas and of course birthday cake ice cream- yummy!

Of course, our last US meal had to be Chick-Fil-A. Goodbyes are always hard when we leave one home to return to another, but this year was made a little easier by the fact that Annie and Da were coming to Lebanon in less than a month, Pap was coming about a month later, AND we are coming back to the states in about a year. They say home is where the heart is, but it gets a little more complicated when you leave pieces of your heart in so many different places. We are blessed beyond measure to have many places to call home!

Summer in pictures

At this point, I think it would be next to impossible to catch up with everything that I"ve missed by being a negligent blogger. BUT, I want to try- depends on I guess how much I can get done in my two hour window that I have this afternoon- hopefully the internet connection will remain consistant, although since it took me 45 minutes to upload the above picture, I am not incredibly optimistic! I"m remembering why I'm not so good at keeping this current!

We had a fabulous summer in the states that stretched from being a 5 1/2 week vacation to an almost two month vacation due to some unexpected dental work I had done (thanks Tom! :)). From Memphis to Georgia to Mississippi and back to Memphis and Georgia again we got in some great family time and made some awesome memories. I'll try and give an overview of all the fun in a few posts.

We had a great reception at the Memphis airport where we got to meet almost two year old Thomas for the first time- it's hard to beleive now that this was our first time to see him! Mom, Dad, John, Liz, Sarah Ann, and Memommy came to greet the weary travelers. Sarah Ann was very proud of her greeting poster.

Hugs all around! I love Memommy's face in the background! It had been two years since we'd seen John, Liz, Sarah Ann, Thomas and Memommy and one year since we had seen my parents.