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Saturday, July 26, 2014

We Survived

July is wrapping up and all I can do is sit back and sigh with relief that we did it. We survived Ramadan 2014 in Abu Dhabi.

Growing up in Florida we used to say things like that. "I survived Hurricane season of 2004!" and it meant something because we actually faced national disaster situations.

I honestly think I can apply those terms to our summer so far. "I survived Ramadan 2014." Considering we don't participate in Ramadan, (the Muslim holy month that consists of all day fasting from food, water, and other things,) it is usually a difficult month for us nonetheless.

You see, most of the expat community (those who are from other countries but come to Abu Dhabi to work,) return to their home countries for 1-2 months during the summer.

Mainly because it is so blazing hot that you can't go outside for 3 months of the year.

But as of now we can not afford that privilege so here we sit.
In a city that has been vacated by alot of our friends and community.
During a month where I can't take a sip of water out in public.
Which means that I can't take my children to the indoor playgrounds at a mall for more than an hour. Which is annoying on so many levels.

Did I mention it was hot? Today the heat index was 129.
That's halfway to baking a cookie.

Putting it that way doesn't make it sound very hot.

And now I want a cookie.

All of my whining aside, we have made it.

Tomorrow is probably the last day. Probably because it is based on the lunar calendar so you have to wait until you see the moon actually phase out to the new moon.

I only cried hot, ugly tears three times.

And there was only weeping and gnashing of teeth by my stir crazy children five to six times.
Or maybe seven to ten.

And Grace has mostly stopped bursting into tears whenever we make a mad dash to the already turned on car from our front door.

Altogether we saved some money from eating out, spent that money on many an iTunes download of Dora and Team Umi Zoomi, learned just how creative we can get with playing with things you already have, and can add the accomplishment of surviving this to our resume.

I think next year we will make a trip to the States.

For my sanity's sake.

And now, maybe, I can resume my writing here. For over a month now, I get the girls to sleep, sit on the couch, and enjoy the silence for about 10 minutes. Then the construction crew starts outside our window (they can't work during the day since they are fasting!) and I drown out the jack hammer sounds with an episode of Rookie Blue or watch a part of Band of Brothers with Ian. Then we fall asleep. All without turning on my computer. Which is good in alot of ways (yay for quality time with my husband! And by quality, I mean we sit mindlessly in front of the tv. Together.) And bad in some ways (I miss writing! I miss the community here!)

So here's to the end of part of this summer. Only 2 more months until we can go outside again!

And then I will be all excited about where I live again because most of you people, in the States will be busting out the fleece and ski jackets. And we will just be seeing trees bud and flowers blossom. For our winter. Amen to that.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Crazy is the new normal

We have been back in Abu Dhabi for over four months now, our new house for three months. On one have it feels like we just got here, on the other, it's like we never left. We feel like this house is our home and we feel really settled. 

Speaking of the house, we finally bit the bullet and got a whole new family room set. It makes it feel much fuller and cozier. 

Ian and I celebrated six years of marriage on Saturday by going to a 5 pm matinee of Malificent and grabbing a burger and fries from Shake Shack. Fancy, right? We returned home at 8 since we were so tired and watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkeban with our babysitter! Who, I'm sure, doubts our coolness factor. 

Grace has been in preschool for the past two months and loves it. We have had the chance to go swimming quite a bit this summer and the girls love it but Sophia is especially a water baby. They are both growing and changing so much. More on that another day. 

I have been co-leading a woman's Bible study each week and we have just started hosting a small group (though with 30+ people "small" is a relative term.) I also started back to part time language learning. It's taking awhile to get a routine but I might have found a new tutor which should help build some structure into my learning. 

Ian is adjusted to his new job and position and, as a family, we are much more used to him being gone all day. There are still days when I call him to help with something that he can't really help with and I have to remind myself that his office job is different than when he worked at home. 

We leave for vacation soon and will return to Abu Dhabi in mid July when Ramadan is in full swing and temperatures are hovering around the 120's most day. Oh the joy. At least we get a beautiful "winter," and have the luxury of air conditioning year round. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Empty Frame- A Summer Goal

We've been in our house for almost three months now. (That's it? It seems like we've been here forever!) All of the boxes are unpacked and put away and everything is organized and in its place.

Including, empty frames. They are all over the place in my house, but they have no picture inside of them! I have two beautiful daughters and hundreds of pictures that are frame worthy but have not taken the time to print any.

As I stood in my house the other day and thought through what I could do with a free evening, my list of unfinished projects came to my mind. I origianlly thought that my New Year's Resolution would be to finish all of my unfinished projects but, at the time, we were uncertain of where we would be and what the job situation would look like.

Now, as the Abu Dhabi summer approaches (or is upon us, as it was 110 yesterday!) I thought that making one of our family goals for the summer would be to work through my list of unfinished projects. We can't go outside alot during this time and we are on a pretty tight budget, so I will mostly be doing things that are free or cheap in my house.

Does anyone else want to finish some projects with me?

Here are a few of the things that I could come up with:

-Print pictures for empty frames.
-Finish furnishing our family room! (most expensive task, obviously.)
-Finish designing photo albums online and save for printing at another time (2012, Sophia's 1st Year, 2013, Family Vacation 2014.)
-Lesson plan for the Fall semester for Grace.
-Laminate and put together all materials needed for the Fall
-Write in and finish the girls' baby books
-Finish Ruth Bible study by Kelly Minter
-Get caught up on our family on the blog
-Finish monogram art piece and vinyl word art

I'm sure more unfinished tasks will surface and I hope to get through them all

Friday, May 23, 2014

Like Riding a Bike....Right?

I've lost my voice.

Not in a medical way, but in a writer's way. I have almost no desire to write anymore.

Really, there is the desire, it is more like the energy has gone out of me. It is so sad. I can't even count how many times I have sat down at the computer, with ideas swimming around in my head, and then I just choose not to write.

Like I said, so sad.

I go weeks and weeks between posts and so much is going on with our little family and I am missing out on the chances to write about them!

So, pardon me over the next couple of posts. Things might get rocky around here, but I am forcing myself to get back into it.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Who Are Your People?

Who are your people?

No, I don't mean your family, friends, and the ones that you call home.

I mean, who are the people that your heart aches for. That you strive to show love to even when it is not easy. Who are the people that you see with open eyes and a compassionate heart?

As believers in Christ we have all been giving a "calling." A purpose in our lives that is bigger that the day to day operations of normal womanhood. We have been asked to share the greatest gift we were ever given.

Matthew 28:19-20
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Mark 16:15
He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

It is very clear what we have been asked to do. But what does it mean by "All of the nations?" and where do our family responsibilities come into play?

Recently I have been asked why I "waste," my time on a people that do not care about Christ. When talking about my calling to them, I was told by several people that their calling is to their family. That they are focusing on their children for the forseeable future and that they do not have time, nor see a reason to do otherwise.

My heart broke.

Not because I disagree. Our children are our "first disciples." They are our greatest responsibility to share the love of Christ with. After our relationship with Christ and with our husbands, our children should be our most important priority.

But do we not have room in our heart to love more than that? Does it really take much more energy? And is there time to waste and wait until our children are grown? Will we then say that our grandchildren are our only priority? How big will our effect be?

Acts 1:8
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

I believe that Scripture shows us how big our heart should be.

To the ends of the earth.
That's alot of people.
That's alot of places.
That's alot of love.

I also believe that the three areas listed, Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, give a first hand example of what our circles should look like.

Our Jerusalem is our families. They are our children. Our parents. Our siblings. They are the people we see and interact with all day, every day. They are the ones we live amongst and share His love with by word and by being a living example of what a changed life looks like. This could also include your neighbors and work mates since you interact with them on a daily basis and live life with them.

Our Judea is our like peoples. They are your MOPS group, the youth group that you volunteer with, the house bound ministry you serve. They are the orphans and widows in your community. The college students at a local school. It is whomever you choose to pour your service time in with. It's important. Maybe you don't spend as much time with them as your family but your heart breaks for them and you search out ways to serve and share with them.

Our Samaria is far away. Think, really far. The stretch of Samaria meant it was several days travel and covered a large swath of linguistic and cultural differences. Where is your Samaria? What are the people that God has placed on your heart that is not nearby? I challenge you to think outside of US territory.

I have a heart for the nations. For every people on Earth. But, like many, God has placed a certain people on my heart.

It wasn't in a dream or in a chance encounter (though that happens for many people,) and it wasn't through my home church's international partnership. It was through time and prayer and me asking God to help me love the people I was among.

Maybe your Samaria has been on your heart for years. Maybe you are just looking for one now. If so, I encourage you to look up the Joshua Project and look through stats of the least reached people groups. Choose one that you and your family can pray for daily and that you could one day have contact with people from that country.

As a mom of young kids, I know how hard it is to give of yourself to so many different things. I know how stretching and tiring it is. And I know how easy it is to over commit. One of the easiest ways to keep our people group circles in the forefront of our lives is to pray for each circle over a meal or while you prepare it. I pray for my husband and kids and extended family at breakfast time, for the mom's that I lead in Bible study at lunch time or friends that I live life with, and for our people group at dinner. 

I'll be writing more about ways you can get involved in your different "circles," but if you have specific questions or want information on people groups that can be your "Samaria," please email me at

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

On Miss Clavel and Dust Bunnies

It's been a settling in process here in Abu Dhabi. I have not had to deal with much of the "culture shock," side of things since I've had my go with that already, but just the unpacking, rearranging, hanging things on the wall, finding my balance type of settling in.

Grace has not handled it well.

Sweet girl.

She went the entire six months bouncing around from house to house, church to church in the States and even did well coming to Abu Dhabi for a week, then on to Jordan for a month, then back to Abu Dhabi in a hotel. But the day we moved into our house and she laid her eyes on her things and her bed, it all fell apart.

She has been just a glimmer of herself for the past six weeks.

It's rather heartbreaking. Sleep issues, waking up with nightmares, a complete rejection of Ian (since he is no longer working from home, we assume,) and a different demeanor entirely. It's so hard to see her grieve and handle the change. I stayed home for two weeks straight with her just to give her some semblance of stability and normalcy and that has helped a ton. We've laid down the law about bed time and reestablished lost routine. Slowly, surely, she is coming back to us.

There is still a part of her that is sassier, more disobedient, but I guess that is part of her testing the waters as a new three year old. Giving grace to Grace and extra snuggles has helped as well. Forehead to forehead, nose to nose, with her hot breath on me until she relaxes into sleep. I really do love those few minutes each day.

I've definitely had more and more "Miss Clavel," moments. You know the ones. Where she wakes up from her sleep and "knows something is not right," and takes off running down the hall? Yes, that has been me, several times a night when Grace wakes up screaming and disorientated. Nap time too. I've become a pro at taking our stairs 3 at a time in a maxi dress.

All the boxes are unpacked and everything is put away. Our living room needs more furniture and the house needs more carpets to help contain the sand and dust. For now, I sweep the entire house every day and I still get a dust pan full of dust bunnies.

And Sophia? She is our happy baby. Until you tell her "No." Then she is our screaming mad, inconsolable baby, with a perpetual state of diaper rash.

The summer is upon us, with temperatures touching 100 degrees each afternoon. And yet, I found myself with the doors open yesterday while the girls played outside in the water table because it felt comfortable.

That's where I am right now. That's what life looks like.That's my picture of motherhood, expat life as of today. I'm sure tomorrow could look entirely different. Or, perhaps, exactly the same.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

It's Been a Month

It's been a month since I have last written.

And clearly the break has not boosted my creative title making abilities.

Oh, well. The world keeps spinning and all of you can keep rolling your eyes at the ridiculousness.

It's been a month and alot has happened. I have found myself thinking about how much I need to share, but there has just not been time!

The girls' nap time was up 10 minutes ago, but since they are still sleeping I will try and steal a moment to be still and collect some thoughts.

Let's revisit February and March via a list, shall we?

1.) My birthday happened. It was a bit of a let down. Ian had to work late and I was stuck inside the hotel all day by myself with two stir crazy girls. Then, because nothing had been planned, I chose to go out to eat and Ian was able to meet us just in time. I cried that night that  we didn't have any birthday cake.

Just being honest with you!

Ian redeemed the oversight with an ice cream cake the next day.

2.) Ian's visa came through, which meant we could begin house hunting!

3.) We found a house! And signed a contract! And moved into the house!

4.) Everything fell apart and my dryer caught on fire.

5.) We've been in the house for 2 weeks and every box is unpacked (quite an accomplishment,) most of the curtains have been hung, and some of the pictures/art has been put up.

6.) Then, our house flooded. Yes, I know we live in the desert. But wouldn't you know it, the one storm we get a year happened just days after we finished unpacking and rolling out the new carpets. Lucky for us, our friends were here and they helped us as we ran around stuffing towels everywhere and catching rain in trick or treat buckets.

It's just the way things are here! The houses are not built to deal with rain. Luckily, no damage was really done and everything is drying out. Including the fifty cardboard boxes that were stacked outside awaiting disposal.

7.) I've started looking into preschool for Grace. And subsequently had several panic attacks about not providing the best for her and how she is going to be so behind her peers. Kindergarten is split into two parts here and the first one can be started at 3.5 years old! She is just not ready for full time school and I don't think that it would be the best thing for her. Luckily a friend explained the system to me and I think I have it figured out- Grace could start the second part of Kindergarten when she is 4.5 OR when she is 5.5 without doing the first part. Phew. Now to figure out how to afford a private school education! Public isn't an option here (locals only,) and I just do not feel called to homeschool her.

8.) I'm just a couple of weeks away from starting back to my Arabic language study! I'm excited to see progress and hoping to meet some goals during this term!

Yup, all of that happened in the last month and the girls are still sleeping. Time to sit still and be quiet for a few more minutes!