Here's a list of 10 things that will hopefully catch me up from a summer of really not blogging much at all. These are pretty random and in no particular order.
2. TRAVEL. Wow we traveled a lot this summer! I'm so thankful that we have this opportunity, really I am. I'm thankful for the list of places that my kids can say they've gone. I'm also, at this moment in time, very thankful to be home for the foreseeable future. Traveling can take a lot out of the little people in our lives no matter how much they love it!
Thankfully none of our trips this summer involved an airplane ride longer than 2 hours so the novelty didn't really wear off. At least for Anabelle. She was very excited about riding the airplane every time!
We went to Dubai and saw the fountain show in front of the tallest building in the world...
We went to Aqaba with my parents and spent 4 days at the Red Sea.
Most recently we traveled to Greece
The girls stayed with some dear friends and toured Athens and Corinth and all the sites to be found there while Jason and I had our own little anniversary get away on the Greek island of Hydra.
Our theme for our 2 days was hike along beautiful trails, sit at amazing cafes, sleep and repeat as many times as possible...
Amazingly refreshing. So thankful for the opportunity!!
3. Family Pics I've decided that I am the only one in my family that cares even a little about getting a good family picture. Everyone else is highly irritated by and just a little bit grumpy about the whole process. It's kind of/sort of become a joke except the thing is, I'm really not laughing. What do you think? Is it too much to ask? A family picture? Or even a decent picture of all 4 girls looking mostly normal. Nope. Pretty sure it's not going to happen. Not ever.
We tried in Aqaba...
We tried at Mt. Nebo...
The ones in Greece were the least awful but still not quite frame worthy...
Maybe we'll just stick to being goofy...
4. FAMILY We were blessed to have visits from both sides of the family this summer. Jason's brother, Jeremy came for almost 3 weeks for a visit and somehow I managed to not get one single picture of his time here. The girls loved having him- just wished his girls could have come to. And I'm pretty sure that AB will forever call our guest room, "Untle Jermy's room". Sorry AJ and Annie and DA- you were each here right before and right after but for whatever reason, the room is "Jermy's".
My parents came right after we returned from Dubai and stayed for 3 weeks. I was really off my game this summer with the camera- didn't get a lot of pics with them either. As I said before we went to Aqaba and had an amazing 4 days at the Red Sea.
Mostly our time was spent trying to think of creative ways to survive Ramadan in the summer which leads me to the next thing...
5. RAMADAN The Muslim holiday gradually moves up each year depending on the cycle of the moon and this year it hit smack in the middle of the summer. Life slows down during Ramadan as Muslims are fasting from sunrise to sunset. Many things are closed during the day and then re-open at night staying open for all hours. No one (Muslim or otherwise) eats or drinks in public during the day. I've heard it said it's illegal, but at the same time there are certain "christian" establishments that will serve food, just behind closed curtains and closed doors so I'm not sure that illegal is the right word. Definitely looked down upon though. My parents got to experience Ramadan with us to the fullest. It's challenging to do any kind of site seeing during this month since it's very hot and you can't drink anything outdoors so our activities were somewhat limited.
I bought a 2000 piece "Ramadan puzzle" (which incidentally I just finished last night, no thanks to ANY of the other puzzle workers in my house)
We came up with creative other indoor activities. Naomi made this house out of the cardboard from a box of glasses that I bought.
6. TEA PARTIES This is now one of Anabelle's favorite indoor activities as a result of our hours of indoor fun. Lotso and Elmo are absolutely necessary guests at any good tea party, and most likely during the entire tea party, AB will talk with her own version of what seems to be an English accent. It's pretty adorable.... She'll bring all of her stuff out and say, "would you like to have a tea party?"
7. COMPUTER I just have to throw this one out here too because it has definitely affected my online capabilities this summer. My computer is driving me batty! It crashed at one point and thankfully most everything was recovered but it hasn't really worked well since. I cannot quickly and /or easily check email, write a blog post etc. (thus the decreased blogging this summer). Anyway, I hope to get it fixed but in the meantime you can pray for my patience! Truly, I am thankful to have a computer at all but I don't know why it seems that I am cursed in the functioning ability of every computer I've ever owned. I know, I know. That probably says something about the user, but as I tell jason, I DO NOT KNOW WHAT I DO WRONG TO MY COMPUTERS. They do not like me. They know that I do not understand them and they rebel. The end.
8. TIRED I am trying to make it a policy to in general not complain about being tired, mostly because it's kind of a pet peeve when I hear others talk about how tired they are, so I'm kind of breaking my own rule here but it is just a reality of where I am right now and I could really use prayer for sleep and rest!! I have so many things that I WANT to do with my days. I WANT to have time in the Word before the entire house is rocking. I WANT to exercise and have healthy eating habits. I WANT to have meal plans and organized household chores etc etc, but I have been so bone weary lately that I have absolutely not been able to make any of those things happen. My sweet little AB has had a horrible summer of sleep. Chalk it up to travel, broken up schedules, teething, whatever. It is what it is, but I am downright exhausted. I think I am even more emotionally tired than ever right now simply because I do not know what is causing her extreme lack of sleep. As a nurse, I like to have a diagnosis that I can fix. I can't find one... She's not sick. I've broken her of the milk at night habit (that started again during all the craziness this summer). She MAY be teething but it's not any better even with pain meds and teething tablets. Last night is an example of what most of our nights have been like lately... After going back and forth from her room to my room for over 2 hours with her waking up fussing, going back to sleep, waking up again etc etc, I finally broke one of my rules and brought her to bed with me (Jason is traveling) hoping to at least eliminate the constant up and down. Totally backfired. She was wide awake until 3 AM jabbering, tossing, turning. I finally returned her to her bed and we both passed out from 3 until 6 when she was up again screaming. So much for a quiet time! She used to sleep from 8-8. I really don't know what is going on! She goes to bed fine around 8 ish and usually sleeps until around 11 or 12 at which point she begins the cycle of waking up ALL NIGHT LONG. I am wide open for suggestions of what may be causing this craziness!!
9. SCHOOL I have to brag a little on my girls. They are rock stars when it comes to schools. They have changed schools multiple times in multiple languages and do such an amazing job every time. No, they are of course not perfect, but I am so proud of their flexibility and ability to adjust. This year brought yet again schooling situation for us. Hard to believe they are entering 9th, 7th and 2nd grades. Naomi is immersed in Arabic and Abbey and Maddie are in the English track. I think the new year always brings more anxiety for me than for them. I changed schools once in my K-12 career and only then because my elementary school ended at grade 6 so I changed to a public high school in grade 7 (along with many friends I already knew) where I stayed until I graduated. Anyway, Jason can be a little more sympathetic having grown up in Africa. When I start to fret about their school, he likes to remind me that most of his elementary experience was in a mud hut in Africa and he turned out just fine. Well. Let's just say if I am having a particularly emotional day, I am not exactly thrilled with that rationale. Anyway, this week was the first week at their new school and they did great. We are still trying to work out their schedules, including extracurriculars, tutors etc, and that is always interesting but overall it's going great.
Here they are on Day 1. The transition has possibly been the most difficult for Miss Anabelle..
She is having big sister withdrawal!
10. MILESTONES We've had a few this summer. The most shocking to me was probably when I was lecturing Abbey about something one day and realized that I was looking up at her!
We were eye to eye for so long and all of a sudden she was 2 inches taller! Teenage growth spurts are pretty amazing things!! She's got a least 2 inches on me now...
In other news, AB has made the move to a bed girl bed. WHY would I move her when she is already having so much trouble sleeping. Well, mostly because I figured what did I have to lose. That and the fact that I found her on several occasions in her crib with her leg slung up over the top trying to get out. That would not go well considering our marble floors... Anyway, she is now sharing the bottom bunk with Naomi who, for the time being, is serving as her bed rail.
The bed rail is messed up on the top so once we get that fixed Naomi will move up there and we'll cushion AB with extra pillows. We went cold turkey with the transition and the crib is no longer in the house having been passed on to some dear friends who are having a baby. Probably a good thing, because I'm pretty sure she would have landed her little self right back in that crib around 3 AM last night and is fairly likely to have catapulted herself right back out. I'm saying it's a good thing the option was not there. (I think)
Sweet big girl...
So there you have it! A summary of our summer in 10 rather random categories. Hopefully my computer will cooperate and I can get back in the routine of blogging. I really miss writing when I don't do it, and I know that years from now, I'll regret having gaping holes in our family story!
In keeping with the random theme, here are 2 verses that God has (separately) brought to my attention that don't so much define where I am but maybe where I would strive to be.
" For in my inner being, I delight in God's law."
Romans 7:22 NIV
"O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago."
I want to strive to delight in God's laws in my inner being! It's easy to put on a happy face and claim that everything's "fine" (I am, after all, from the deep south) even when I may be grumbling about things in my spirit, but the bottom line is God always knows my heart and I truly do desire to delight in Him in my inner being, even on days when things are most assuredly NOT fine....
AND I am so challenged to praise God's name daily, remembering that nothing happens by accident, He does not make mistakes and the things that He does have been marvelously planned since long ago. Now that's a perspective that can turn my whining into praise if I can only remember to remember it!