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God With Us

“It is hard to slow down and breathe and pray in this season. … The season I’m living in doesn’t much feel like the season of Advent. The season I’m living in makes it hard to prepare my heart for Christmas, to say the least, which is rapidly sneaking up on me. There’s not much I need more than a kick in the pants.”

This is a quote from my sister in law’s blog recently. Please read her whole post here:

http://schmexas.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/list-making-advent/

I think of the season of advent in two ways: the real advent which is slowing down, preparing my heart, and being with God and the other stuff like making snow flakes, baking treats, wrapping presents. Both prepare me for Christmas. And I’ve felt like I’m failing in both recently.

I haven’t done the advent readings I hoped to do, haven’t made crafts with the kids, don’t have the decorations made and hung up the way I planned, and we have no cookies to eat right now. That last one may really be for the best in some regards, but I’m feeling lost and sad and, well, behind.

For example, the kids were given some advent calendars with a chocolate for each day. Yesterday we opened numbers 11 and 12. It’s the 17th. So not only are these calendars a far cry from the homemade, daily verse and activity advent calendar we had last year (though I don’t think the kids mind getting a chocolate every day), I can’t even keep up with opening a little door each day.

And sometimes I just need to be a little more proactive. Sometimes I need a kick in the pants.

However, I’m choosing to be ok with the place I’m in right now. I want more, and I know someday we will do more, but right now I choose to not have advent be stressful. I’m finding the ‘more’ in other places like cuddling with my baby, playing with Emery, or napping when I need more sleep because right now those are the important things. Sometimes I forget how sacred the everyday things are, that God is found in those small, ordinary places.

I talk to Myka and Emery about Christmas coming. About Jesus coming and that we are waiting for him. Myka’s first response to that was, “he’s coming here?!” I love that. While I’m not doing daily readings with them, I think they are hearing the message during our various little chats.

Today, I am balancing the important and the urgent by ignoring the housework I ‘should’ be doing and making cookies with Emery ASAP. I need to hang up some laundry and chop up vegetables and start the roast in the crock pot (urgent things that need to be done right away), and then we can make cookies (which are important, especially to Emery). Making cookies is time for the two of us to do something together; it builds our relationship. I’ve been talking about them for a week and the housework or nursing Poppy or play dates keep getting in the way. But not today! Today I keep my word to Emery and we will make cookies. We won’t have as much one-on-one time over the next month or two while Myka is out of school.

Myka has school today and tomorrow. Then there is a three week winter break! And THEN we go to the Maldives for two weeks! That’s a lot of time with everyone together. I will have to get used to having three kids home all day, but I’m hoping we have some really wonderful time together. Maybe we will even read every day. And we might make some cookies.

More importantly, I’m hoping that our life slows down a little when I don’t have to have everyone ready to take Myka to the bus at 7:00. I’m hoping I have at least a couple minutes to myself in the morning to connect with God and my self, to just breathe and settle my spirit. Because just thinking about that makes me feel better. Because I want to take the knowledge that God is with us and have that be the reality of my day.

And what better time to embrace that than in advent.


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November life and weather

It has finally cooled off around here! It is so lovely. Winter in Saudi is beautiful. Cool mornings, warm days. I can wear jeans and a sweater in the mornings and be comfortable.  I can open our windows which I love.  You know that feeling in the spring when you can open the windows, it’s warm, and you feel the breeze? There’s an awakening with the change of seasons – it’s that same kind of feeling here in the fall or winter when it cools down. Things can grow again. You can go outside and be comfortable. Picnics and bar-b-ques are an option.

Myka just turned five. And the next day she was talking about turning six. Ha! I visited her school to bring cookies for the class, and she loved the extra attention. She wanted cupcakes AND an ice cream cake at her birthday party, and we obliged. We had a simple bar-b-que with friends. The kids all ran around like hooligans, and the adults got to visit. Last year Emery blew Myka’s candle out, she got upset, and I probably laughed. This year, we forgot the candles (including a number five candle we will now wait two years to use) so the happy birthday song was a little anticlimactic. A friend did pull up a candle app on her phone. Welcome to the new, safer way of blowing out birthday candles!  Now that Myka’s birthday is past, I wonder what she will talk about at school? It’s been her favorite conversation topic for weeks.

Emery is still adjusting to having a baby sister around, transitioning from naps to a quiet time, and generally being a two-almost-three year old boy. He makes big messes, throws big tantrums, and likes big hugs. He has the best laugh, and one of my favorite things to do right now is get him to giggle. He can be really sweet to Poppy, but mostly ignores her, though he is getting better.  Maybe he’s just realizing she isn’t going anywhere. He likes me to hold him, so when I can we sit in the recliner and snuggle. I think I’ll put a little stack of books there for us to read through. I’ve noticed that he is sitting through story time at the rec. center – a weekly event where young kids on the compound get together and sing songs and then read a book together. He doesn’t always make it through the book reading, but he likes the song part. He also will do at least one craft at art class. Sometimes two. He just joined me as I’m typing this, coming out of his room after his nap with his swimming suit.  There was some disappointment (and fussing) when I told him we were going to the beach tomorrow not right now, but now he’s sitting quietly if awkwardly on my lap.

Poppy is sleeping in the swing. She usually sleeps in there or in her crib, although one time when I put her on the play mat for some tummy time she promptly fell asleep right there on the floor. She is growing! My arms notice that she is heavier. We are now using 0-3 month clothing. I noticed the weather had changed when I was dressing her in long sleeves and pants instead of just a onesie. She is usually content and easy going. We posted a video on facebook of her talking with Stephen. Her coos and smiles are so precious! I often get a big smile when she first wakes up in the morning. We will be going in for her two month check up soon, hopefully this week.

My foot has fallen asleep with Emery on my lap. I asked if he wanted to sit in the other office chair, but, no, he wants to sit on my lap, so I let him stay. The things we do for our children…

Tomorrow I am going on a bus trip with only Poppy in tow. We are going to a Christmas bazaar at a different compound here in Jubail.  It’s a nicer compound. Fancy. And this is my first time visiting. I’m so excited!

November is crazy busy here for us. There are so many birthdays and events and the holidays are beginning. We have at least one birthday party a week. I feel like it’s one thing after another until February. But one day at a time! And I’ll try to take lots of pictures.

 


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October

October is going awfully quickly. I feel like it should be the 8th or 9th. No, actually it’s the 21st. What?!

We are finding our rhythm. Stephen’s mom has gone back home, Myka is back in school, and I’m back to making school lunches and going to toddler activities. And we are all doing well.  Myka hasn’t missed her bus, and I haven’t forgotten to make her a lunch.  Emery went to art class and play time this week! That might be a first. Poppy went 3 1/2 hours between meals last night and usually takes a longer mid-day nap of 3 hours or so. She still mostly sleeps, and that allows me a nap here and there, and those naps keep me sane (most of the time). She is very pleasant, but when she is unhappy, wow, does she let us know. We think she might be the loudest of our babies.

Poppy is my first baby with any hair. It’s so soft. I have no idea how to comb it, if I comb it. Mostly it just fluffs up to her typical hedgehog style. I love it. However, this long hair has one major problem. She grabs it. She gets her little hand tightly holding her hair right down at the scalp, and opening an infants clenched fist is nearly impossible! She wails because someone is yanking on her hair. Maybe we should put a hat on her. No, it’s too hot for a hat.

Yes, it’s still hot here.  My weather app tells me that right now it is 97F with widespread dust. That sounds lovely. Who wants to visit?!! We haven’t had any rain yet. Last year it was cooler and had rained a few times by now. We are still enjoying going to the pool! And the pool has chillers on right now making the water cooler. We have started to visit the playground again. It was too hot even first thing in the morning until a couple weeks ago. We met a few friends there this morning. Poppy laid on her blanket in the shade while the older kids played. I think she got a little hot by the time we got home, though, and she has a heat rash that comes and goes. Poor thing.

Poppy’s paperwork for her passport has been processed, and I have submitted my application for passport renewal, but they don’t like our pictures. First, they said there was a shadow on Poppy’s photo. So we had a friend who is a photographer photo-shop out the shadow. This time they said they are the wrong size or proportions. Our faces weren’t big enough. We did use an online program to adjust our face size and we’ve used this process for our passports in the past! Stephen decided we should give birth in the states next time. We went to a photo shop in Jubail and got two very unattractive pictures of Poppy and me. It makes me feel vain, but I may have to go and try again. Otherwise my passport photo will make me angry every time we travel for the next ten years.

 

Update! You may have noticed that I say it is the 21st in my post and it is actually posted to the blog on the 31st. That would be because it has taken me ten days to get the photos added on here. Yikes! So I’d like to add that we had a very fun Halloween today. Myka loves dressing up. Emery will wear his airplane wings (see photo below) for about one minute before he wants them off. But they are awfully cute! I’ll have to update this post again with a couple photos of Myka in her fairy princess costume.

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One month old

Our dear Poppy is one month old today!

She is 4 1/2 kg or almost 10 pounds. I’m not sure how tall she is now, but she doesn’t fit in my arm the same way she did when she was born. I can tell she is longer, but she still fits into her newborn sized clothing perfectly. We love snuggling with her and do so as much as we can. As you can tell from the pictures below, most of the time she is sleeping. We are ok with that for now.

Grandma Bonnie is visiting right now which means more fun for everyone! The kids get to play with Grandma, Grandma gets to hold the new grand-baby, and I get an extra nap. Yes!!

 

 

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Myka and Emery

Myka is a sweet, doting, slightly smothering, older sister.  Sometimes the hugs are a little too close and long, and sometimes the kisses are on the plentiful side, but I love it.  She is gentle. She loves her baby sister.  And because Myka is away at school all day during the week I appreciate that when she is around she wants to hold and take care of Poppy.

Emery shows his love in different ways. He often shares his blanket and stuffed animals with her which is especially adorable because these are usually His Things. He covers his ears when she cries and doesn’t like when she is ‘loud.’ Not that the boy is quiet; he is the loudest of the three by far. He misses his momma sometimes, so I am making sure to spend some one-on-one time with him.  Today, we made Cookie Balls (actually called Energy Bites, but kids like cookies so..). He is a good helper.

Poppy is doing well. She is a week old today! We are still taking it easy. Stephen has started going to work in the afternoons, and I’m working my way toward being up in time to get Myka ready for school. I am so glad we have the flexibility to make this a gradual process. I’ve only been a mother of three for a week, but so far it’s been wonderful!

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Poppy Elizabeth

Poppy Elizabeth Sands was born on Monday, September 8th, 2014 at 3:47am. She weighed 7 1/2 lbs and was 19 inches long.

We did make it to the hospital (I was worried about the hour drive), but we didn’t have much time to spare! We left the house at 1:30, got to the hospital around 2:30, I was in the assessment room (where they make sure you’re really in labor and decide to let you stay) at 3:00, and she was born before 4:00. Myka and Emery came to meet Poppy on Monday evening, and we came home on Tuesday. The last couple days have been filled with cuddles mostly, but also two trips back to the hospital for our follow up appointments.  I am looking forward to not making that trip quite so often!

Everyone is doing well. I think Stephen might be the most tired, poor guy. He is doing an amazing job keeping up with things around here. Packing Myka’s lunch for school, getting her on the bus, cleaning up, cooking, holding Poppy so I can rest… I am so glad he is around! I am also very grateful for friends who have stepped in and helped in so many ways. Having a supportive community not only makes life easier but makes it more fun too.

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