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

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Naomi's giraffe

Anyone who has ever traveled with small kids knows what a joy it can be- HA!   I remember one year when we were returning to the states when Naomi was 18 months old, from the time we left our house in Beirut at midnight until we arrived at the Memphis airport, 24 hours past- this is pretty typical.  The a-typical part was that my sweet little toddler slept for a total of 2 HOURS out of that 24- yuck!   Needless to say, as much as I love our visits to the states, the process of arriving is not so fun despite the fact that our girls are mostly good travelers- especially the older two- Naomi kind of remains the wild card.  We're never sure how things are going to go...  I always try to pack a variety of activity choices in their little back-packs- markers, unique coloring books that we pick out and save for traveling, game boys etc.  This year, we were very thankful that our flight left Lebanon at the very normal hour of 9 AM (as opposed to 2 or 3 AM in years past).  Our first let go London (about a 5 hour flight) was non-eventful.  We ate lunch at a really yummy restaurant in the Heathrow airport (no I'm not exaggerating, and yes, it was very expensive- but oh so worth it).  Anyway, it was called something to do with giraffes- I can't remember what the actual name was but it had giraffe in the title.  Each of the kid's drinks came with one of these little plastic giraffes stuck in the straw.  For whatever reason, Naomi was fascinated with the little plastic giraffe.  She played with it throughout the meal.

She played with it throughout the rest of our 3-4 hour layover in London (it's name is Emily by the way). 
She played with it for the first 30 minutes of our LONG 9 hour trans-Atlantic flight.

What, you might ask did you do with your active four year old for the last 8.5 hours of the flight after she played with Emily the giraffe?  Nothing!  Because praise Jesus, hallelujah, she slept the ENTIRE rest of the flight holding Emily tightly in her sweet little grip!  Can someone please tell me where we can buy plastic giraffes in bulk for every time we travel?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pumpkin carving

I know I have at least 5 other posts that I've promised that I'm way backed up on but I wanted to jump ahead a little to present times or I'll never get caught up!

Have I said yet that I love fall in the US SOOO much!  The weather is gorgeous, the trees are beautiful and there are so many fun things to do.  The girls were so excited about carving their pumpkin.  We bought one of those really cheapy looking pumpkin carving kits from Target.  I was very skeptical but that  thing works!  It made it very easy and the girls (well, Maddie was the only one actively participating by that point) but they were able to carve easily too.

Dad made the hole in the top...

 Maddie was the only one willing to dig her hand in, to pull out the pumpkin goop..

(I feel the need to add here, that although there are no pictures to document it was yours truly who thoroughly cleaned out the pumpkin innards...  Maddie posed for the cute little picture, Abbey read a book somewhere, Jason caught up his fantasy football team and I did the dirty work... but that's my job as mom, right :))
Hard at work carving...
Somehow we managed to not take a picture of the finished product, but here's one of the girls from Halloween night and you can see the jack-o-lantern at their feet.

Monday, October 25, 2010

This and that

I've missed blogging!!  We haven't fallen off the face of the earth, I just grossly underestimated how busy life would be when we arrived back in the US!  We are finally getting settled for our 10 months in the states and I found my camera charger and bought a new memory card reader (the old one disappeared somewhere in the packing and unpacking) so I"m finally able to share some of our pics from the last 6 weeks of craziness.  We've done so many fun things that will require separate posts for all the pictures we took- Disney World, Beach trip, trip to the TN aquarium, time on the farm in GA etc etc.  This post is probably going to be totally random.  I've had lots of thoughts running around in my head as far as things I could post about, mostly thoughts on being back in the states etc, but I think at this point, I"m just going to try and get some pictures out there and give a summary of our craziness since arriving in the states on September 9.  Thanks to my mom, we had Chick-fil-A nuggets right when we stepped off of the plane in Memphis, but that didn't begin to satisfy the craving!  Chick-fil-A was our first lunch stop the next day for lunch- yummy!  Happy tummies! 

One of my favorite things about the location of our parents is having mine in Memphis where we can experience lots of city life type things and having Jason's parents on a farm outside of Rome, GA where we get the best of country living.  The day after our CFA feast in Memphis, we headed to the Memphis Zoo.  I really can't say enough good things about this place.  I've grown up going there so I'm a little sentimental but the improvements they have made to it over the years are phenomenal- it's a terrific zoo and I highly recommend it if ever you are in the area.  We got a year membership because I know we'll be going a lot. My brother and his family live close by so it's great to all be able to go together. 
No, the extra blonde is not Naomi's long lost sister although we've been told countless times since arriving how much they look alike.  That's Sarah Ann, my brother's oldest.  She and Naomi are 7 months apart and both in JrK at school and are quite the pair!
This is one of my favorite things at the zoo.  It's called the Birds and the Bees.  You get a little stick with bird food attached and there are these beautiful birds everywhere that you can "catch" and feed.  The kids love it!
Here's another shot of the "identical cousins" when their JrK class went to a nearby pumpkin patch for a hayride and picnic.  They each got to pick their own pumpkin out of the field. Such fun!   
(Side note:  blogger seems to have changed the way you upload pictures and it is not recognizing when I turn the pictures and save them- any help anyone?)

Speaking of cousins, one of mine got married a few weeks ago so we got to make a family road trip for the wedding.  It was the girls first time to go to a wedding (at least that they can remember well) in a long time and they had so much fun getting all dressed up.  

(Again- WHY can't I turn these pictures???!!!)
All the girls...
The reception was at a country club in Chattanooga right on the river- it was beautiful!

Of course, when you walked into the reception hall, the wedding cake was front and center- Naomi was absolutely captivated.  What she didn't understand was why she couldn't have some right away.  She stood as close as she could get to the cake until the bride and groom arrived to cut it- some 30 minutes later.  But it was worth the wait!

Abbey, of course found a corner for reading in the midst of the party...

We did a lot of traveling during our first month in the states.  In the midst of the craziness we didn't forget to celebrate Abbey's 11th birthday- I can't believe my baby is 11!
With both families (above in memphis, below in Georgia)

It's been a busy 6 weeks for sure!  We've had lots of great family time in both TN and GA.  Gotten re-acquainted with cousins...
and dear family members...
(above is Naomi with Millie- they go way back),
we've driven from TN to Ga to FL
back to GA, then VA and back to TN...

It's been busy, busy, busy and we're happy to be somewhat settled in one place for a while.  Here is a picture of the girls in their school uniforms.  They are so excited about going to school where Annie teaches.  The older two have uniforms but Naomi's JrK class doesn't have to wear uniforms yet.  It took me a while to convince her that this outfit that she wore on the first day was not her uniform....

Hopefully, before I post about the rest of our adventures I'll figure out what blogger has done to make me not be able to turn my pictures!!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rio Lento!

Our summer would not have been the same this year without our membership at one of the waterparks in the area- Rio Lento.  (yes, I agree that this is an odd name for a water park in a Middle Eastern country, and no, I have no idea why it is called that...  I do know that the owner is from Atlanta, GA so go figure...)  Anyway, we first started going to this waterpark several years ago and it quickly became a family favorite.  Nestled in a beautiful valley, surrounded by mountains, away from the concrete jungle that is Beirut, it truly is a wonderful escape.  If you know me well, you know how I need my wide open spaces, and this park has been perfect for our family.  I didn't do the best job of taking my camera so the pictures are kind of random, and you might have to use your imagination a little bit.  As a mom, I love the layout of the park.  The wave pool and kiddie pool are right in the middle, with the lazy river going all the way around the edge.  It makes it possible to choose a spot somewhat in the middle and pretty much have an idea of where everyone is all the time.  There are various slides scattered around the park- several great innertube slides that empty into the lazy river, one pretty straight down slide called the Kamikaze, one called the sidewinder that is a pretty steep drop and is like a massive skateboard ramp except you do it on innertubes, and one that my girls have dubbed, "the toilet bowl" (you'll see why).   Above picture is the wave pool with the sidewinder (skateboard ramp like slide) in the background.  They have all sorts of snack stands set up when you walk in- some normal, some not so much...

Notice the sign above for SnoBiz (and also cotton candy which you can't see), right alongside the stand for "Healthy Corn".  Strangely, this is a popular thing here.  Basically it's a big vat of canned corn that the season and serve in little cups.  Of course, you are not allowed to bring food into the waterpark as they want you to buy their stuff.  On days we're staying awhile, we pack a picnic in the cooler and go out and eat it in the car and come back in.  

Maddie and Naomi like to eat picnic style.  Abbey and Jason (when he's able to join us), enjoy sitting in the cool car. (I'm usually eating on the go..)

Here's the kiddie pool.  Every toddler's dream!

I love how we're surrounded by green at this park!

The yellow and blue striped tube slide that you see in the background is what the girls call the "toilet bowl".  As Abbey explains, you go flying down the tube until you get to the circular part at the bottom where you spin around and around until it flushes you out...
(sadly no pictures of this slide in action because it's not always open but it's a madhouse when it is.  The people getting "flushed" out the bottom always come out looking a little dazed.  No, I have not tried this slide.  

Here are some action shots.  The wave pool is by far the favorite thing.  Naomi is all about "riding the waves" with Daddy and no one else will quite do.  She is always thrilled when he is able to go with us...

(and yes, swim caps are required in almost all pools here- isn't it cute??)

Naomi riding the waves alone while the big girls are in the deep end .  The child is fearless...

AJ and Maddie getting in on the fun too...

The sidewinder quickly became a favorite of Maddie.  She will fly down with hands waving in the air.  Abbey has tried it once, and it was not for her.  Personally, I agree with Abbey...  I'll try anything, but in my opinion this one is just not fun.  Maybe I'm too old for a tummy drop like that, I don't know but it was just not that fun to me...   Naomi on the other hand has been begging to go down and when the girls came and told me that other small kids were doing it, we thought, why not?  So up we climbed to the very top (yes, I sacrificed to ride the thing with Naomi on her first time down, but that was it for me- she goes with Maddie now).  Anyway, up we climbed to the very top only to my told by the teenage lifeguard that Naomi was too small.  At which point Naomi went into hysterics as I carried her back down the steps.  Fortunately as we got to the bottom of the steps, one of the lifeguards who we have known for at least 3 years now asked what was wrong.  When I told him they wouldn't let her go, he immediately said, "that's not true" and picked her up and we headed back to the top.  To ride on the double float, Naomi kind of has to sit right behind the person in the front instead of down in the hole of the float but she still absolutely loves it...

Here are Maddie and Naomi climbing up to the top...
The initial drop off (this is what always gets me...)
(Maddie in front, Naomi in back)

You can't really tell by Naomi's face that she's enjoying herself, but she always gets off saying, "again, again!"
Here it looks like she collapsed back once the initial shock was over...

Worn out!

It's been a great summer!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tea Party

It shouldn't shock you to know that with three little girls in the house, we love tea parties, especially Maddie, my little chef.  We did this several years ago when Papa and Nana were visiting, and Maddie was determined not to let Annie and Da get away without having a tea party with them as well.  She planned it, and with a little help from Annie and me, carried it out. 

Maddie found a recipe for "easy petit fours" in her cupcake cookbook.  It called for melting the store bought cans of icing in the microwave and dipping the tops of cupcakes into the icing and it was then supposed to harden to look like fondant petit four icing.  First problem- no store bought icing- we had to make our own.  Apparently the point of melting the store bought icing is that all the chemicals in it make it somehow work for this recipe.  Obviously no chemicals in my homemade icing.  We ended up just icing the cupcakes, which all the girls were of course happy about.  I'm still not convinced that there exists a simple recipe for petit fours- anyone?

This tea party served as our lunch for the day, and with men in the house we had to have something a little substantial- but it could still be pretty!  Here's Maddie cutting bread into heart shapes for our tuna sandwiches...

I have to comment on the differences of attire of my girls for our tea party.  When Abbey heard tea party, she immediately wanted to borrow one of my dresses and get all fancy (no, this is not something we let her go out of the house in- it was dress up...).  Naomi, on the other hand decided to wear her ballerina outfit... because that's perfect for a tea party, right?  Maddie was taking her role of serving very seriously so she opted for the plain white tea shirt with her apron that Memommy made covering her skirt...

Our spread including heart-shaped tuna sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches, tortilla roll ups, cupcakes, and of course tea.  Below Maddie is giving directions for the meal...

Naomi enjoying her cucumber sandwich...