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

Monday, August 29, 2011

Creative uses for a bouncy seat..

Anabelle loves her bouncy seat because she's able to look around and see everything happening around her.  When we first started using it, she was very content to just be...

She's also decided that she likes to scrunch up at the bottom...

"Look mom, standing is fun too..."

Darn, they strapped me in...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

When life hands you lemons...

When life hands you lemons... (not getting to go to your best friends house after looking forward to it all day because traffic is HORRIBLE and taxis aren't available)

....make lemonade! (play creatively with your sisters instead of pouting all afternoon and find out you get to meet your best friends at a restaurant for dinner)

pulley system from bed to bed...

Lego houses for polly pockets and littlest pets...

notice the stair cases, sofas, bookshelves, TV's (also known as DS)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

May the road rise to meet you..

"What a happy summer this has been, " thought Anne...and then recalled with a little pang something she had heard Aunt Highland Kitty of the Upper Glen say once...."the same summer will never be coming twice."

Never quite the same.  Another summer would come...but the children would be a little older and Rilla would be going to school...."and I'll have no baby left," thought Anne sadly.  Jem was twelve now and and there was already talk of "the Entrance"....Jem who but yesterday had been a wee baby in the old House of Dreams.  Walter was shooting up and that very morning she had heard Nan teasing Di about some "boy" in school: and Di had actually blushed and tossed her red head.  

Well, that was life.

Gladness and pain...hope and fear....and change.  Always change!  You could not help it.  You had to let the old go and take the new to your heart....learn to love it and then let it go in turn.
 Spring, lovely as it was, must yield to summer and summer lose itself in autumn.  The birth...the bridal....the death....
L.M. Montgomery (Anne of Ingleside)

I shouldn't be surprised that Anne Shirley- one of the all time greatest fictional characters EVER would best sum up my feelings about this summer- this year actually.  We love our life overseas and all the joys, challenges and blessings it brings our family, but we also love our family in the states and the time we get to spend with them is always such a treasure, truly a gift.  This past year has been just that- a gift.  

My three oldest girls at CMDS with Annie- what a treasure and one that will not come again.  Naomi and cousin Sarah Ann experiencing Jr K together, all the girls learning to love Papa and Nana's "farm" in Georgia and looking forward to each new animal adventure, family meals and memories made around the dinner table both in Georgia and in Memphis, basketball, softball, ballet, overnight camp, graduation, the list of firsts is practically endless.  And then there's the list of seconds and thirds- things we want to do over and over...  Kangaroo Jakes, Memphis zoo, Children's museum, Little River Canyon, swimming at Nan and Pops,  the list goes on and on.   And precious, precious family time.  Oh so much wonderful family time.  Sweet little Anabelle making her appearance into our world and lighting it up in her own special way. 

Memories we have collected this year as a family will be forever treasured in all of our minds.   And yes, it's true, the same summer, the same year will not be coming twice as Anne said, but I pray we will not be afraid to embrace the changes and "take the new to heart".   And even though there is "a little pang" as we remember (and in my case, a lot of tears...), there are many, many more memories to be made and fabulous times to be had.  I praise God for family, the precious gift of time together and even the gift of time apart that causes us to cling to each other a little tighter with each "see you later" (we don't say goodbye in our house).  Thank you Anne Shirley for helping me put into words the thoughts of my heart.

The perfect close to this post is the words to the Scottish blessing that I sang in chapel every week when I went to Christ Methodist Day School.  My girls learned these words and sang them in the same chapel 25 years later...

May the road rise to meet you
May the wind blow at your back
May the sun shine brightly on your face
May the rain fall softly on your fields
And until we meet again
Until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of His hand

(and now I'm crying...)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Comfort food

As we are settling back into life overseas, I've been reminded time and again that despite the many modern conveniences we enjoy in this country (truly there is very little that we lack for!), things here just take longer.  A trip to the grocery and back is made more difficult by the hailing of taxis and the lugging of many bags into said taxi both at the store and upon arriving at home.  Meal prep takes a good bit longer with the careful washing of all the fruits and vegetables.  Some things I cannot even really pinpoint as to why they take so much longer, I can just tell you that they do.  It always takes me a few weeks to get my feet on the ground upon returning overseas as far as planning meals and regularly cooking for the family- something that I truly do love to do.  Whether that is due to jet lag, unfamiliar surroundings or just sheer laziness on my part, I don't really know, but I know that it's true whatever the reason.

We are oh so thankful to be staying in the home of some friends until we find our own apartment and her kitchen is so very well equipped.  It's made my adjustment back to cooking regularly that much easier.  This past weekend, I decided we were all in need of some comfort food and thanks to Jason's frequent grocery trips on my behalf the kitchen was stocked and ready.

Looks yummy, right!  Oh, it was! Several weeks ago in the states...  Sadly these are some of the only veggies I have not found here and miss so much (yellow squash and okra that's big enough to fry).  This was not our comfort food, but if you are lucky enough to live in a place where you can get these things, check out my cooking blog (or I should say "our" because I share it with some dear friends) in the next week or so and I'll post some of my favorite southern recipes for summer veggies.  Anyway, I digress and now I'm hungry which is bad since it's almost midnight.  So, this was not our comfort food.  Meatloaf, creamy mashed potatoes and balsamic green beans (recipe here) were on the menu along with dinner rolls. (a close second to summer veggies as far as comfort foods go..)  Sadly, smack in the middle of meal prep (which was already somewhat delayed due to a jet lagged Anabelle taking an extra long nap), the gas on my stove ran out- if you live overseas you know how frustrating that can be and how it tends to happen at THE most inconvenient times..  So our comfort food meal ending up being a little more stressful than I intended and A LOT later than I intended.  Thankfully, Jason was able to get the gas changed out (a small miracle in itself considering it's Ramadan here and it was iftar- the breaking of the fast- so usually NO ONE around).  But he was able to find the building concierge who helped him change out the gas bottle since there was already an extra (like I said- well equipped kitchen!)  Anyway, our comfort meal was not exactly what I intended but overall still tasted pretty good despite the delay in preparation.  AND the best part of all was dessert- Jason's comfort food request-  bread pudding with warm lemon sauce.  So yummy served hot with a scoop of cream or vanilla ice cream- the perfect end to a somewhat stressful attempt to re-enter the realm of nightly meal preparation overseas!

(the links to recipes on this post are to the cooking blog mentioned above)

Sunday, August 21, 2011


So here's the deal.  I've ridden in taxis in the Middle East for 8 years now in various countries.  I feel like that makes me some sort of an expert- ok, maybe not an expert but at least a somewhat experienced person.  I know the drill, I know how to haggle, I know I'm going to get hot and sweaty and probably stink like cigarette smoke.  I know I may not always (ok, probably not always) get dropped off where I wanted to go.  Hopefully somewhat in the vicinity but probably not in the exact spot.  I'm used to the fact that all my kids will probably not be buckled in- in fact all my kids may not actually have a seat- they may be sitting on top of each other.  I remember when we went to visit family in London after our first summer in the Middle East.  We headed out to get in my SIL's van and my kids all just kind of piled in.  She kind of looked at me funny and says, "UMM, Kelli- we do actually have seat belt laws in this country- you're going to have to buckle them!".   Ha!  Anyway, all that to say- I know taxis.  Been there, done that.  I did not expect to experience taxi culture shock coming back to the Middle East.  Well.  

What I have not done, I quickly learned, is taxis with a family of four- one of whom cannot quite hold her head steady.  Holy cow, Lord help us all and thankfully He does!  Also, thankfully, I was eased into this lesson (well, sort of).  Eased in the sense that my first time in a taxi this go round was only Jason, Anabelle and I (as are other girls were already at the friends house that we were taxi-ing to).  So, I buckled sweet little AB into her seat and climbed into the taxi quite comfortably.  We went to leave that night and Jason walked down the street to hail a taxi and bring it back to our friends house.  I proceeded to buckle Anabelle into her carseat again and was ready to walk out the door.  Jason comes back to get us and was like, "umm, sweetie, she can't sit in that, we won't all fit".  duh,  Yes I knew this, I"m just in the practice of buckling my baby in before getting in the car... Good practice right?  Yes, well.  So, in we pile into the taxi.  It was an uneventful ride.  Anabelle was falling asleep, there was traffic so the taxi drove slowly and all was well.  For the next entire family taxi ride, I decided to try out my new Mobi wrap so that Anabelle would at least be secured to something.  It was a somewhat slobbery ride (with her face mooshed up against me) but otherwise uneventful.   That night, our return home trip after dinner with friends was the ride that scared the (insert whatever word you want) out of me.  I decided not to strap Anabelle to me again because she was already fussy and wasn't a huge fan in the first place.  Well. There was no traffic and I'm pretty sure our taxi driver was running from the law considering the speed he was driving.  Naomi, who was sitting in Maddie's lap knocked her head against the seat in front of her at least twice, Anabelle and I were bouncing around like crazy and I truly thought she was going to go flying out of my lap at least three times.  By the time we got home, I think I was even too scared to cry (and that's saying a lot for me considering the amount of tears I've shed in the last few weeks...).  

So now we have a system before entering a taxi as a family.  First and foremost we pray before the ride, during the ride and after the ride.  Basically we pray all the time.  About taxis.  I'm serious.  We're going to be riding in them for a while (until we get settled and get a car) and we need to be all prayed up on this. Eventually, when I know my way around better, we can separate into two taxis, but for now I have now idea where in the sam hill I am at any given moment so we are not separating.  So first we pray.   Then, we are ready to jump in quickly in order.  You only enter taxis here from the passenger side.  Jason gets in the front.  Lucky dog.  If it weren't inappropriate here, I'd make him sit in the back with 4 girls at least once so he'd better understand the tidal wave of sighs and gasps coming from the back seat.  The rest of us get in the back.  First Maddie, then Naomi (who sits in Maddie's lap behind the driver), then Abbey, then me with Anabelle firmly attached to my person with my Mobi wrap.  I am not yet a huge fan of it because I don't think we've fully figured out the positioning and Anabelle's not too excited about practicing but I will not make the mistake again of not tying her to me again.  If anybody has any tips on using this thing, I'm all ears!  I think the biggest problem with it right now is that it's darn hot...  

I sincerely hope for those of you that love us that I have not scared you to death for our safety.  We will not be taxiing much but hopefully this will at least inspire you to add "taxi safety" to your prayers for our family!  

(Anabelle's thinking, "seriously, this again?")

3 months and 10 days

Our sweet little Anabelle Rose!  I stole the idea of the title of this post from a friend (thanks Kendra...) but I haven't kept up with monthly posts like I wanted to for Miss Anabelle so I"m doing the best I can when I can and today turns out to work for me, and today Anabelle is 3 months and 10 days old- how time flies!!

Little angel- what a joy you are to our entire family!!  Daddy and I have said many times that you are the perfect therapy in a somewhat stressful time in our lives.  I can strategically place your bouncy seat at daddy's feet while he works on the computer and all he has to do is glance up and there you are waiting to catch his eye and give him one of your brightest smiles which more and more lately is accompanied by lots of coos, raspberry blowing and whatever other noise you can make come out of that sweet little mouth.  I wish I had a recent picture of your beautiful smile, but I thought the above picture shows your sweet little laid back personality perfectly, and our lives have been too crazy lately for me to concentrate on picture taking!  As family chaos takes place around you, you just chill and blend right in.  We all laughed last night when we found you falling out of your bouncy seat, sucking quite contentedly on your thumb until someone bothered to notice and help you up.

You absolutely adore your big sisters.  For that matter, you pretty much adore anyone who bothers to give you the time of day and for that we are so thankful.

As I said already, you are SOO laid back, and we've been so thankful over the past few months as we've moved from place to place and lived out of suitcases, that you will willingly sleep wherever I lay you down...

You continued to prove our theory that you are the perfect baby when you were completely unaffected by the fact that we traveled thousands of miles on a 27 hour journey by continuing to sleep contentedly ALL NIGHT LONG.  That was such a blessing considering the rest of us had the longest battle with jet lag yet!!
Your short little life has already seen many changes and the adults around you have been through some emotional good byes.  And you my child have been therapy...

Oh how we've all needed it!  I suppose the therapy you provide is more helpful for our immediate family as we get to keep you with us...  Thankfully God has given all of our family a special bond that is unaffected by the miles that separate us- if anything we are strengthened and I pray you will embrace that truth as your sisters have.
 You light up the room with your smile.

(yet you tend to freeze when I pull out the camera to capture that smile so imagine the picture would be here...)

You sleep until about 8 in the morning, nurse 5 times a day and go to bed for the night around 10.  So far you are the perfect little napper, thumb starts heading to your mouth as I'm lying you in your bed and you usually go straight to sleep although just this week you seem to be getting a little annoyed if you are not quite ready for your nap.  Thankfully, you don't protest too much (yet) but I since it coming!  You love to chatter and are adding all sorts of new noises to your repertoire lately including this slightly annoying little scream/yell combo that you started the day before we got on the airplane.  Thankfully you didn't practice that new skill much during our 27 hour journey... You are adored by your sisters who now much to my delight fight over who gets to change your diaper, put you down for your nap or carry you around.  You will never lack for attention that's for sure!  

You love to watch your sisters play and this is your new favorite seat..

My sweet Anabelle, God knew exactly what He was doing with the timing of your birth.  Why am I surprised at that?  As all of our girls have been, you are the perfect gift for the perfect time in our lives.