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

Monday, April 30, 2012

Bringing the beach to the desert

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned on this blog, oh at least once or twice, that I like to nest.  I like to be settled. I like to create a home- even if it is a temporary home for our family (which  happens more often that not!), I want it to be ours.  Comfortable, cozy, welcoming.  

I will be the first to say that I am NOT a designer.  I am sure there are all sorts of designing faux pas in the way I arrange and configure our home.  For example, I was told one time that you are never supposed to have your furniture actually sitting on the edges of the area rugs in your room.  Well.  Try fitting 6 people and all of their stuff into somewhat small Middle Eastern apartments!  Rules have to bend!  So I guess in the long room, I'm better off not knowing rules like that because I can't follow them anyway!  

In my opinion, a home should be decorated by the family, for the family.  I've never really understood the concept of having a designer come in with knick knacks that did not really initiate with the family and therefore have no meaning to the family.  I'm not criticizing those who use designers- I actually think it's a really cool concept- to be able to help people love and maximize their space.  I'm just saying, use your own things- they don't have to be fancy or expensive if they have meaning to you and your family.  

I wanted to color for our living room but I also wanted it to be neutral-ish so I ended up with kind of a bluish/greenish/grey color that accents nicely with our cream couches and brown curtains.  It works for the casual side of our living room and the more formal side because it brings out some of the colors in the persian rug we bought several years back.  

What I realized when all was said and done as far as getting the furniture in, getting the paint on the walls that I had subconsciously created sort of a beach theme.  Not outright, and maybe not even that noticeable, but when I started putting up pictures of family beach trips, I definitely noticed the sea foam greenish/grey tint to the walls (very subtle) and the sandy color of the couches and curtains.  I have inadvertently brought the beach, one of my favorite places in the whole wide world, to the desert!  (don't tell Jason though- his love for the beach is not yet as well defined as mine..  he's more a mountain kind of guy...)

Anyway, I was excited to kind of go with the beach theme in certain areas of the house.  Like I said, I had several pictures from various beach trips, as well as a few other shots thrown in there.  I liked the way these frames looked together.  My SIL, Allison,  had given me the precious framed picture of Naomi at her ballet recital (which I missed because it was 3 days after my c-section with Miss Anabelle).  So these pics are in the casual seating area of our living room...

(My mom bought the top one for me on our family beach trip last year to Gulf Shores.  It says, "Having a sister is like having a best friend you can't get rid of.  You know whatever you do, they'll still be there.")

We went as a family to Oman back in January and the girls got to go shell hunting on the beach- one of their all time favorite activities. (click here for details on that trip) A few weeks later, Maddie had all her shells spread out and we were talking about some crafty things she could do with them (keep in mind-I am not much of a contributor to these types of conversations!  i pretty much just listen to all her ideas and say 'yeah, that sounds great').  
So anyway, in keeping with our beach theme, I actually had the idea of using many of the shells in some of the tea light holders I had sitting around form Ikea.  At the time they had silver rocks in them, but I thought it would be really pretty to use the shells.  Turned out great I think and Maddie was very proud to put her shells to use.  The tea lights are in our sofa table between the casual and more formal living areas.  Also, on the table is a picture of each of the girls from our beach trip last year as well as a large shell that Maddie found in Gulf Shores.  The shells in the tea lights, though, are from our trip to Oman.

Here's a close-up...

Each individual shell is so unique and pretty- so detailed!!

Maddie also wanted to use some of the shells in her bathroom.  The girls have a combo of shells from the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Mexico for their bathroom.

We have a lot of fun family pictures on the bookshelf in the hallway just outside the girls room.  Their rooms are pink and green and I used the leftover paint from each room to paint some white frames I already had.  On top of the shelf are several large shells that we got from a friend in Oman.  Maddie wanted to display them also and I wanted to put them somewhere where little hands couldn't send them flying to the floor.  It was a little too tricky to try and hang them in our concrete walls without shattering them and this way they girls can pick them up when they want to..

Just like life at the beach, life in the desert comes with a lifetime supply of sand.  Sadly though, in the desert there's not a beach to walk on right out your front door!  There is plenty of dust to clean and floors that constantly need mopping, but at least we have the visual reminders of the kind of sand that we love all around us!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Out my window

One of the first things that attracted me to our new apartment is the amazing sunset we get to see almost every night out our kitchen and living room windows.  It's absolutely breathtaking and different every night.  I love God's creativity!!

 We've also been able to get somewhat of a cultural overview of our new city by looking out our window.  We discovered this year that snow day takes on a whole new meaning in this city!  I thought Memphis, TN was bad, but sprinkle a little snow in the air over here and you have mass chaos!!  Our girls were excited to go down to the empty lot by our house and "play" in the snow.  I was content with the view out my window...

Come to find out, it was a good thing I stayed inside!  Jason ventured downstairs with the girls and got pelted from all directions by neighborhood teenagers who obviously don't' abide by the American snowball rules of no hitting in the head (especially the back of the head) or when a person is obviously retreating to the inside (or not intending to play snow ball fight at all!).  Jason was very gracious though and thankfully didn't make any enemies that day!!

Just a few short weeks later, the view out my window was very different.  I just happened to walk by and saw this herd of sheep grazing right outside my door.  Naomi especially was SO excited and went downstairs to "watch"...

I love that the cars just move out of the way...

Looking forward to what the next season brings out my window...

Scripture around the house

I love the idea of using my/our favorite scriptures in decorating our home.  I am NOT a designer and I definitely don't have the budget (or the know-how) for lots of fanciness, but I love using things that we have and coming up with creative ways to decorate our home.  One of my desires for our new home was to use scripture in fun and creative ways and in ways that the girls could also help with and appreciate.  As always, it's a work in progress, but here are some things we've done so far.

Our kitchen was our cozy room this winter.  (which means it was one of the only parts of the house we could keep warm...).  Anyway the big wall behind our kitchen table was one of my biggest challenges...
(this is a picture from soon after we moved in, before we had our island). 

 I knew I wanted to do something above the kitchen table with the girls artwork.  I also wanted colorful frames.  Problem- it's really hard to find picture frames here for a reasonable price and that aren't' really ornate and crazy looking.  Jason looked while traveling at Ikea but the size was off.  I had about decided that I would have to wait until we got to the states this summer and hit Target UNTIL... I happened across a frame shop.  Although he didn't speak any English, he had frames in every color in the exact size I wanted AND for only 5 JD (about $7)-SCORE!!   Here is the finished result.  3 of the pictures, the girls had drawn at various times over the last year and I had already picked out to use....

The 4th is the handprint picture.  I'm kind of proud of it... It's not often that I have an original idea but this was totally mine (please don't burst my bubble and tell me if you've seen it somewhere before...).  I wanted to do something with all 4 girls prints and I love Psalm 90:17...

So Maddie and I came up with this (I can't take all the credit- Maddie gets at least half of it!)

It was Maddie's idea to write the Psalm like stems coming down from the handprints..

Fun, right?  And let me tell you, getting a 10 month olds handprint was NOT easy!!

Oh, and here's a bigger shot of how the kitchen looks now

and with the table pulled out..

So.. on to the next project.  I went with bright colors in the kitchen.  I brought back red, yellow and green fiesta dishes and I love the way they look with our framed picture from Lebanon.  Also, I painted my bookshelf red to go with the kitchen.  The yellow frame was an old white one I had  and I painted it and wrote Proverbs 14:26 on it which is one of my favorites...

the top of the red shelf with the Lebanon picture..

I wanted the girls to participate in our scripture around the house efforts.  I had these red and pink frames from Ikea that I bought because I knew they would at least match the red and pink in Maddie and Naomi's room.  We ended up using them in the bathroom (also very red and pink!). The girls wrote out scriptures on card stock and decorated them and we can switch them around for different seasons of life.  Anyway, this is what we came up with and I think they're pretty cute!

I have a lot of pretty crosses but we don't display them too much because they can be offensive in this part of the world.  My bathroom is brown and turquoise and I was given this really pretty turquoise cross.  I framed Galatians 2:20 to go along with it..

Abbey and Anabelle's room is a work in progress for sure.  I used more of the pink picture frames for above Anabelle's bed.  Psalm 119:73 is very special to me for her.  It says, "Your hands made me and formed me.  Give me understanding to learn your commands".  I did another handprint for her on the middle frame with pictures with Jason and me on either side.  

We had Abbey's bed made and she loves it!  I was really pleased with how it turned out.  AND, I LOVE how this picture that she painted last year at Christ Methodist matches the colors that she picked out for her room.  We're working on a framed scripture to go above her bed...

Here's another shot of her bed...

I'll do some more pictures soon with the rest of the house (mainly for family who have been asking to see..) but for now I wanted to focus on our scripture projects.

Accountability update

Well I've survived the first 10 days of dieting/exercising/organizing my life/weaning my last baby/trying to get up at the crack of dawn...  Yeah, a lot to try and accomplish at once I guess but my hope has been that it will be kind of cyclical and that each thing will help make the other things easier to do.  For example, weaning Anabelle finally allows me to diet and will enable me to have more energy to exercise which will help me diet which will give me more energy to organize my life, oh and hopefully in the midst of all of that Anabelle starts sleeping well again which enables me to get up at the crack of dawn... whew!!  So this update may not be that interesting to the general public, but it's helping me keep track ...

DIETING: Have I mentioned I HATE dieting?  See, I'm really a big fan of all things food so the whole dieting thing kind of poses a problem.  However, a few years ago I discovered South Beach was a plan that I could do for about 2-3 weeks and get an extra few pounds off pretty easily.  I've actually never really had to diet much (even after kids- well at least the first 3) until I hit 35 and my metabolism took a hike.  That was a really depressing day.  Then I had a baby at almost 37 and well, it's been all downhill from there!  So anyway after 10 days of no sugar, no carbs (and essentially no cheats) the fact that I am still sane is a major victory.  I planned to also give up diet coke (or at least severely cut back to 1 or 2 a week) but I decided that was maybe not the best idea during the early stages of the diet especially with Jason being out of town.  Here's why...
This is what everyone else had for dessert...
(click here for this yummy recipe)

This is what I had for dessert...

I'm eating tons of veggies and I feel SO MUCH better overall.  I've lost 4 pounds- was hoping for more by this time but I'll take it.

EXERCISE:  Have exercised almost everyday but 2 in the last 10 days.  Combination of Jillian Michaels and some weight training/cardio DVD's that I have.  I never really thought exercise would be an issue as I've always loved it- the biggest thing is finding the time for it!  But a Jillian DVD is just the right length- Anabelle will stay happy in her pack -n-play for me to get a whole workout in.

ORGANIZING MY LIFE:  That's actually going very well!  I've gotten the girls chore charts organized finally which I'm thrilled about (them, not so much...).  Will post about that later because I'm very pleased with the way it's going.  I'm getting my own life organized too- time for email, time for finances, time for language study.

WEANING MY LAST BABY: (sniff, sniff)  Going well.  Only nursing first thing in the morning and right before she goes to bed.  Started out kind of shaky as she would drool all the milk out and then throw the cup but I think we are getting the hang of it, and I hope to have her fully weaned within the next two weeks.

GETTING UP AT THE CRACK OF DAWN: (Kendra, are you reading?  do you know what I was tempted to put in that phrase?)  Ok sorry.  That's going ok.  The good news is, Anabelle is finally sleeping better.  She still occasionally wakes up during the night but puts herself back to sleep.  Realistically, I probably shouldn't expect myself to be able to do this while Jason is on a 10 day trip and we've also got 2 other girls staying with us but I at least want to start moving in the right direction which I'm doing so that's good.  I still savor those early morning hours before anyone else in the house is awake and those have been hard, if not impossible to come by lately.  Little by little they are coming back though and I'm thankful for that.

My main goal in all of this if for my life and that of my family to be more glorifying to Jesus.  I'm trying to keep my expectations realistic for this phase  of my life and honestly I think that's the hardest part of the whole thing especially now that our world is so connected and there are SO MANY others out there in the blogosphere and Facebook world and Pinterest world for me to compare myself to (but that's a subject for another post...).  Anyway, my daily prayer in all of this is that my goals will be centered in Him and that I will see my progress (or lack thereof) in any given area through His eyes.

"Many are the plans in a man's heart, 
but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."
Proverbs 19:21

Sunday, April 15, 2012


It's probably not fair to ask the blog world to keep you accountable.  Somehow that is probably cheating a little...  I'm gonna do it anyway though.  Or maybe not actually ask the blog world to keep me accountable but just hope that somehow by putting all this stuff/these plans out there- making them public- somehow maybe that will allow me to keep myself accountable.

See here's the deal.  I have this long list (mostly a mental list which is probably the problem), but a long list nonetheless of the things that I need to fix in my life- do a little better (parent, pray, spend time with Jesus), do a little more of (exercise), do a little less of (eat).  So anyway, there's this list.  And today I'm putting it out there.  Putting myself out there really.  These are my plans for the next two months.  My life improvement plan effective immediately.  In my mind, it's all going to work out so perfectly.  We'll see.

Here's what's going to happen starting this week.  

Begin weaning Anabelle 1 daytime feeding per week so that by her first birthday she if fully weaned.  (sniff, sniff)

Exercise 4-5 times/week

Begin phase 1 of south beach diet and lose 10 pounds in the first month (see mental lists are a bit optimistic- we'll see if that actually happens)

Work towards healthier eating as a family and lost total of 20 pounds by summer vacation

finish organizing family budget

finish organizing girls' chore charts

finish organizing my life (whew!  this may or may not happen but I promised myself I'd put it out there- will let you know what I come up with...)

begin sleeping better at night since Anabelle will be weaned and will therefore sleep better and since I will be exercising and eating right and will therefore sleep better all resulting in me being able to get up at the dreaded 5 o'clock hour for much needed time with Jesus.

See that's what it all kind of comes down to is that I need more time with Jesus!  I'm hoping all these things will result in that!!  Sadly I see only one way to make that happen more effectively.  And considering the amount of sleep I am getting these days (next to none), it pains me a lot to say what I need to do,but God has laid it very clearly out there for me in the way that only God does.  So anyway this horribly painful thing that I need to start doing is getting up A LOT earlier.   As in the 5 o'clock hour.  Actually thanks to my awesome husband, I had a "me date" at Starbucks for like 4 hours a few weeks ago and the biggest thing I came away with is that I need to be getting up earlier...  YUCK!  Anyway, I used to kind of be a morning person.  I've always loved those early hours when the house is still quiet and calm.  Those are precious hours with Jesus and they haven't been happening and they need to happen again.  Yes, I have lots of excuses.  Yes, Anabelle is waking me up multiple times a night.  But also, yes, I choose to stay up late and watch this or that DVD or read this or that blog.  Choices.  I make them and I can adjust them so that things happen the way they need to.

So these are my plans.  I know that my plans are not always His plans, but I am hoping that since my heart's desire is to honor Him with my life and that of my family, that He will help me/guide me in bringing these plans to pass.  Lord give me strength to exercise, willpower to eat right and fabulously multiplied rest!  And if any of you out there feel so inclined to ask me how these things are going I promise not to bite your head off!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mia's lair

So our sweet little Mia puppy rejoined our family this past February after almost 18 months of staying with some dear friends in Lebanon while we were in the states and then getting settled in our new home.  Of course the girls were over the moon to have her back but I think it has been somewhat of an adjustment for little Mia.  Don't get me wrong- she loves us dearly (I hope!) but she also loved this other family dearly and it has just taken her a little time to adjust.

Plus, she's not really a puppy anymore.  She's 4.5 and a wee bit eccentric.  She had her own little lair at our first house in Lebanon and my friend tells me that she did the same thing at their house.  At our first place, it was one of those under the bed boxes that was under our bed (I'm so logical in the way I store things...) but it didn't have a top on it so I could access the stuff easier.  Well, Mia quickly turned it into "her place".  She would gather random things from around the house and put them in her "lair".  It's really the only time I've ever heard her growl at one of the girls (she has still yet to growl at Jason or me)- when they invade her lair to try and retrieve something she's stolen.  Which funny enough, was (is) just about always one of their webkins stuffed animals!  For some reason she was obsessed with those things.  And she didn't chew them to pieces.  She would just hold them in her mouth and then surround herself with them in her lair.  She was particularly partial to one webkins dog and to one of Naomi's stuffed monkeys... (click here for that story..)  OH, and Naomi was so excited to have Mia back that she even gave her Curlis/Curtis the monkey but Jason and I quickly took her back.  Possibly we are more attached to the significance of Curtis than she is?!

Anyway,   My friend tells me that at their house it was socks.  Mia would gather random socks from around the house and hold them captive in her spot under the bed.  Funny little dog.  Before, we always knew when she had hijacked something she wasn't supposed to have when we arrived home and she greeted us and then immediately made a beeline for her "lair".

Well, maybe it's adjustment anxiety, maybe it's just that she's a crazy, eccentric (but still super sweet little puppy), but for whatever reason, Miss Mia has developed quite a lair in her/our new home.  I thought I had our "under bed" area pretty well filled up.  See, storage is a big issue in apartments here (as in , there isn't any...) so I very purposefully looked for a bed that would allow plenty of hidden storage.  We have sleeping bags, suitcases filled with extra pillows, blankets in bags, beach towels and several "under bed boxes".  Well this time she didn't go for one of the boxes, she developed her own little place at the very back against the wall, wedged between hard side suitcases and garbage bags stuffed with sleeping bags.  There is a little spot (maybe 2 ft by 2ft) that is very definitely HERS.  She gathers socks, bits of balloons, last week it was Easter eggs, the girls stuffed animals (she has a few favorites).  Curtis the monkey is always under there (once I realized she wasn't going to chew him up, just cuddle with him, I let him stay).  She's also somewhat fixated on one or tow more webkins animals that the girls aren't too happy to give up.

Sadly, she is also pretty fixated on the little rubber shoes we have for Anabelle which I'm sure have some fancy name but I have no idea what it is (anyone?)  To be honest they were a gift that I kind of turned my nose up at (I never put shoes on any of my others just because they are so expensive and they outgrow them so fast at that age!) but this little things have been AWESOME.  They stay on and keep her little piggies warm which has been a huge thing this winter.   So here's the deal. As much as I love Mia puppy and want her to feel secure.  I can't let her have the shoes.  So I have found myself doing this a lot...

I'm greeted by this (yep, she's guarding the shoe!- still hasn't growled at me though...)

  and retrieving all of this...

Anabelle's happy to have her shoes back!!

And everyone is under strict instruction to keep the shoes out of Mia' reach!!

11 months

I can't believe this little beauty is less than a month away from being a year old!  How time flies!  I thought she was moving and shaking last month only because I didn't know what this month had in store!  She is EVERYWHERE and LIGHTNING FAST!  Pretty sure she'll be walking within a month.  She's very steady on her little feet.  She's still adored by all her sisters and becoming more and more animated.

The hard part right now is how much trouble she is having with her sweet little ears.  We just can't shake this infection (since January!!!) and therefore we (read me) are getting very little sleep.  She wakes up randomly throughout the night and I am not one who is opposed to letting her "cry it out" were she simply in the habit of waking up and needing to get back into a good routine, but since I don't know if she's actually hurting or not I just can't do it!  So our little perfect sleeper (2 awesome daily naps plus 12 hour sleeps at night) is not such the perfect sleeper anymore and sleep has deluded me for a good 2.5 months now.  Oh well, it is a season and this to shall pass but it's been hard to get a whole lot accomplished on a daily basis when I feel like a walking zombie!!    Anyway, enough of that although I would appreciate prayers for healing and SLEEP!!!!

As the youngest in a house full of singing girls, Anabelle has had quite a few songs dedicated to her in her short little life and I thought it would be fun to share some of them.  Her sisters are quite creative (and just a little bit goofy) but we love to sing in our house so of course Anabelle has become the object of many of those songs.  Here are a few... (and I'll just go ahead and say that if you don't know the song that each song is taken from they will probably make little to no sense...)

My little Anabelle
(to the tune of My Little Buttercup and of course sung with The Three Amigos accent...)
My little Anabelle
has the sweetest smile (smile, smile!)
dear little Anabelle
 Etc etc (ok, that one's kind of boring)...

Sweet Anabelle
(to the tune of Sweet Caroline)
Sweet Anabelle (doo doo doo)
Good times never seem so good
(Ok, now I'm starting to feel a little goofy writing these out)

6 Months going on 7 Months
(to the tune of 16 going on 17 from Sound of Music)
(obviously insert correct number of months but I"m pretty sure it started around 6 months)
I am 6 months going on 7 months, I know that I'm so cute
I like to smile and eat for a while
but sometimes I just go (raspberry sound)
(again, feeling goofy- please remember I didn't come up with these!)

Anabelle, Anabella
(to the tune of Praise ye the Lord- think 70's, 80s campfire song-ok maybe I came up with this one...)
Anabelle, Anabelle, Anabelle, Anabella, AAAANNABELLE!
(repeat....  a lot...)

Probably gonna have to edit this post once I get the girls to help me think of the rest.  I know there are more, just can't come up with them right now!  

Happy 11 months Bella Boo!  We love you!

(blowing kisses)