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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Sam To The Desert- Part One

We live in a pretty unique place, that is fairly indisputable. Desert, ocean. Wealthy beyond compare next to poverty beyond imagination. Sparkling new mixed with recently antiquated. It really is something you have to see and experience for yourself.

So, when Ian's best friend, Sam, asked about coming for a visit we jumped at the chance. We have only had a few family members come see us and no friends from the US so we were over the moon. Plus, he was able to come during Ian's annual leave, which meant some concentrated, work free time with our friend!

Today also happens to be Sam's birthday! So, Happy Birthday, Sam (though I doubt you even read this!) We love you and are so thankful for your friendship all of these years.

We took the opportunity to do a mini tour of the UAE with all of its highlights. Here is part one of our adventures with Sam in November.

Ian and the girls took Sam for a driving tour around Abu Dhabi. They went down by the waterfront and to a historical replica village down by the marina.

We went to the Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival. We had been to this same festival almost three years ago but this time it had been built up so much more! The festival grounds were really developed and the stalls and exhibitors did a wonderful job. We wanted to return another night and watch the camel races but we never did.

We did finally by the girls their own Jalabiya- the casual, colorful dress worn by locals. Little girls wear them all the time (when not in western clothes,) and women often wear them as house dresses or underneath their Abaya (the black outer dress.)

We also went to Al Ain, which is the seat of historical and cultural sites. So many neat place to explore. Old palaces, forts, museums.

We also went for a drive up Jebel (Mt.) Hafeet, a tall mountain that pops out of the flat desert and straddles the UAE and Oman. We last drove up it when Sophia was born, over three years ago. Time really does fly.

My favorite thing we did was stop at Jahli Fort. Ian's taken many of our visitors there over the years but I was always great big pregnant or with a newborn at the time so I've never been able to climb around in it. There is a gallery of Wilfred Thesiger's photography and the old fort and surrounding buildings to explore. It really feels like you've stepped back in time!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Three Things Lately

I saw a neat idea to capture some moments in time over at Momfessionals that involves listing three things that are going on with each family member right now. I might not include three things for Ian and I as we are just not that interesting, but there are always things to add for the kids!
 1. Grace is THIS close to dropping her nap. I know, she's four and a half years old so it shouldn't be that big of a deal but to me it is! I love that I have all three kids in their rooms for nap time at the same time. One and a half to two hours of pure silence bliss. For awhile I was putting Grace on our bed (she naps there since Sophia is in their bed at nap time and they would never sleep if in the same room during the day,) with books or some small toys and she would play for an hour or so and then fall asleep. Now we've moved to putting her Calico Corner dollhouse and box of figurines in my room so that she will stay awake. Otherwise night time sleep is tenuous.

2. Grace has two cavities. And not just any cavities, two cavities that need some serious work. The dentist told us they would need a "baby root canal," and my heart just broke for her. I had pretty awful teeth as a child and spent alot of time getting work done and I had just hoped that the kids would get their dental health from Ian, but that may not be the case. She goes in on Sunday so keep her in your prayers!

3. Grace keeps asking me when I will have another baby (not anytime soon, trust me.) She plays with a baby doll every day and talks about our imaginary future baby, who is a girl, named Cora. At one point she told me she wanted to adopt an older sister and name her Cora. And she decided that Matthew is a better name for Luke and calls him that whenever she is playing house.

1. Sophia is three and loving life. Except when she's really not. And that seems to be what being three is all about. She gets really weepy and can go for half a day or so where everything just sends her into sobbing. She doesn't get angry or mean, just weepy. Teenage years are going to involve alot of tears, I think! She also can get really frightened by any kind of chase game. I think she actually thinks that something bad will happen if she gets caught!

2. Sophia has a red tutu that my aunt or my mom gave to her. It sparkles and is really pouffy. She loves it. Anytime she plays dress up she includes the red tutu in her ensemble. She gets all dressed up, usually including her birthday crown and a pair of high heels, then leaps around the family room to whatever music is playing. She has alot more of a carefree streak in her these days that is so cute to see!

3. Sophia would give me a run for my money, and my patience, if we ever had to homeschool. The other day we were reviewing the letters A, B, and C, for the third week in a row and when I pointed at A and asked what his name was she bit her lip and guessed "O? No, S?" I told her the answer and right away asked her A's name. We repeated this about five times before I just walked out of the room. I know comparison is never good but it is so interesting to see the differences between Grace and Sophia- Grace knew the names and sounds of every letter by 2 and a half! Sophia's a year older and can't quite master the name of one letter. Craziness.

1. Luke is into everything these days! He can pull up to a stand and prefers to be that way almost all day. And if he has to crawl anywhere it is just to chase after me and pull up on my pant leg. His crawl has one leg straight out to the side and one leg in a normal crawling position.The girls scurry to the carpet the moment I put him in his walker as many a toe has been run over or heel scraped by the rampaging Luke. He can chase us all around the dining room table in it. Busy boy!

2. He is recovering well from his little bout with Pneumonia. It was such a relief to get him on medicine but I hated having to take him in every day for antibiotic shots. Luke seemed to really love the nebulizer and breathing treatments. He'd grab onto the face mask and drift off to sleep every time we did a treatment. We are praying that this small case does not lead to a susceptibility to respiratory problems in the future. I am so thankful that we had a proactive medical community that could treat him.

3. Luke has started signing "more," and "all done," and seems to understand and respond to clean up time. He will put things in a box if you ask him to, though I am not sure if that is because he understands or if it is just a fun game. I love this age. They are learning SO much, it is incredible!

Ian and I recently celebrated our ten year anniversary from when we started dating! I can't believe that we have been together that long. This man has been such a rock for me on this great adventure called life. I'm so thankful that we get to journey together.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

2016 New Year's Interview

I've recently been really convicted about my role as memory maker and keeper for my family. So many things can be captured and shared with some effort and I want my kids to be able to look back on all of these special (and not so special,) moments.

Some of my favorite things to do as a kid were to hear stories about me when I was younger and to flip through photo albums. Now I have thousands of pictures on a hard drive but not many of them actually printed.

It may take some time and effort to get caught up on the sharing but I am doing my best!

We finally sat down and filmed the girls' new year's interview.

And by "we," I mean me.

And by "interview," I mean a quick questionnaire that only got filmed because:

1.) the girls' hair was actually brushed.
2.) Luke actually let me put him down...for about 30 seconds and then he falls and gets hurt.
3.) I finally remembered to.

Eventually I will actually write out and save a list of questions that I want to ask them every year, but for now I'm tailoring them to their current situation.

And, for a look back at past years' interviews, here is 2015 and 2014! It's crazy to see how much they have grown, changed, and developed over three years!

Grace, part one:

Grace's New Year Interview 2016 Part One from IGalloway on Vimeo.

And part two (because I forgot to ask her a question and she called me out on it!):

Grace's New Year Interview 2016 Part Two from IGalloway on Vimeo.


Sophia's New Years Interview 2016 from IGalloway on Vimeo.

And, not to be left out, a riveting one on one with Luke:

Luke's New Year's Interview 2016 from IGalloway on Vimeo.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Welcome, 2016!

Another year closes and I am sitting here reflecting on the past year and the months to come. We rang in the new year in Muscat, Oman, hanging out with good friends and laughing at New Year's past. 

The year has finished so quickly and I feel like I'm scrambling to "finish well," all the while looking forward, setting goals, and asking the Lord what He has in store for us. 

Each year we try to enter into the year with a blank check for our lives for God. Where do You want us? What do You want us to be doing? What do You want us to do with the resources You have provided? 

And every year the answers are clear and, though not entirely conventional for the Western world, predictable enough for us that we can follow willingly and plan out for years to come. 

This year, things are not as clear and straightforward but we rest in the fact that continually looking to the Lord align out will to His will result in good things. 

Last year was the first time in a long time that I didn't set any goals for the year. I think my mindset was just surviving Luke's arrival and adjusting to three little ones while in a foreign country. 

This year I feel like I'm ready to set some personal goals: 

Blogging- I miss it! It's such an easy creative outlet (and free!) I'm obviously not a professional writer and this isn't going to take me anywhere but I love documenting our adventures, both the mundane and the exotic. I'm going to make a big commitment to blogging. The first half of the year I want to blog 2-3 times a week and the second half of the year 3-4 times a week. 

Reading- as the girls get older I am more and more aware of the influences of screens. Their generation is going to have to walk a tight rope between embracing technology and not becoming a slave to it. 

Grace has started reading and I want to keep the momentum and joy of reading alive so I think modeling that will be helpful. I'd love to read 20 books this year (or more!)

Health- I'm back down to my pre baby weight but things have definitely... Changed. My goal is to stick to a loose Trim Healthy Mama eating plan (loose because a lot of the "special ingredients" are hard to find over here.) And to continue with running when possible. I'd like to be able to fun a 5k by July and a longer stretch by December. Speed is not an issue, just endurance!

I'd also love to finish 4-5 photo books this year. I've fallen behind and it's going to take some work to get caught up! 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Grace and Ballet

We had the wonderful opportunity this term (semester,) to let Grace be a part of a ballet class. I had been wanting her to do this for over a year, because I knew she would just love it, but we live so far away from the city that the 45 minute drive just didn't seem worth it.

Then, Grace's little best friend, Maya, got signed up for a class just 20 minutes away so we jumped on the bandwagon too.

It was a very casual class, no dress code, no previous knowledge, and at only 30 minutes long it was right at her attention span.

Some weeks she was very focused and on point (ha, get it?) but some weeks she had her head in the clouds. I suppose that is what you would expect from a four year old. Either way, she LOVED it every week and danced her way around our house in between classes.

The last week of class we were allowed to sit in and watch. Sister was in a BAD mood. Or rather, she just didn't know how to act with me in the room. She just stared me down the entire time with a straight face and didn't do half of the moves. Same way she acted at her school performances last year. I'm not sure if it is some sort of stage fright or she doesn't know who is in charge (me or her teacher,) but either way we will have to have a chat about that in the future.


Saturday, October 31, 2015

{Happy Halloween, 2015!}

Happy Halloween from the Galloway family!

We spent our day around the house, getting things done, carving our pumpkins, and had a special lunch time where the girls got to watch Room on the Broom on Netflix (thanks, Alison, for reminding me it was there!)

We got a chance to go trick or treating with some friends of ours today, which meant for fast costume preparation and last minute borrowing of items. We hadn't really planned on doing anything because it isn't celebrated much here, but friends of ours, who live in a large expat based compound, invited us to come around their neighborhood.

We went (obviously,) as the characters from Frozen. Grace as Elsa, Sophia as Anna, Luke as Olaf, Ian as Kristoff, and Brittney as Sven.

This is Luke's first halloween!

 We had a great little group of friends to walk around with. I love seeing our girls with their friends! They interact so sweetly. Graham, Grace's little astronaut friend, led her around all nigh with his hand on her back. And L, the little cowgirl, would check to see if everyone got a piece of candy!

There were TONS of kids out and many of the houses quickly ran out of candy. The girls loved it though, at least for the first 20 minutes. Sophia started getting wary of all of the scary costumes and decor (there were a surprising amount of scary and gory costumes on even young kids! I did NOT like that.)


We ended the night with pizza and playtime at our friends' house. Such a fun evening!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

For The Love of Honking

We've lived out of the USA for five and a half years now and had our fifth "Sandiversary," just two months ago. Living cross culturally means that there is almost a constant barrage of small (or large!) differences than what you think or know as normal.

Eventually though, something that once seemed odd or out of place becomes an accepted norm. And that's when the (funny) problems start.

I don't even notice a difference when I am surrounded by a sea of women in black Abayas or men in crisp white Kandoras.

American accents catch me off guard because we are around so many different accents on a normal basis.

The kids refer to many different things in a backslash manner: "I need a band aid/plaster, Momma!" "I have to use the potty/toilet/go wee!" "Are we going to fetch/pick up Maya?"

I only flinch a little when driving by the "forest," of little four foot scrawny trees on the edge of the highway that you can see the sand dunes on the other side of. Though I die a little on the inside when Grace croons about how GIANT the trees are and how Abu Dhabi has "SO MANY TREES!!" (they aren't and we really don't have that many. At. All.)

It does not even PHASE me to see Ferrari, Bentley, or Rolls Royce cars on the roads or in the parking garage. Mercedes and BMW? Psh. Common place.

And honking? A totally normal part of our driving experience.

Growing up in America, honking was reserved for people with anger management issues. You only laid on a horn to let someone know you were very upset and wished you could do something about it. If someone honked at you, you would probably cry in embarrassment or yell back at them in anger.

Here? The horn is more of an alert to let someone know something is amiss. All day, every day.

Pedestrians crossing the highway in front of you?
Lay on your horn.

Land Cruiser passing you on the right hand side (on the shoulder, no less?)
Lay on your horn.

Maseratti handle the circle (roundabout) incorrectly? Lay on your horn to remind him that he is DOING IT WRONG!

Nissan Patrol cruising down the highway straddling two lanes? Lay on your horn to remind him he is an idiot! And rude! And inconsiderate! (Seriously. This is my biggest pet peeve. I see it every single day. I'm not sure if it is because they are rude or they want a wide berth to keep their expensive car from getting hit.)

But the awesome part of the horn here is that it is pretty detached from an emotional reaction. You honk and move on with your life.

The girls are so used to me honking that Grace has taken to asking "What was that driver doing naughty? He should learn how to drive the right way!"

Often I don't even realize I have honked until Grace asks that and then I have to think about it.

We have amazing road systems here, which I am very thankful for. And fairly safe drivers, too. Sure there are some speed demons. Sure there are some law breakers. But, for the most part everyone is kept to a pretty high standard and without left hand turns (you have to go down to a light or circle, U-turn, then can turn right into something,) it takes one of the biggest dangers out of play.

Plus, I can hide behind my deeply tinted windows and still respect the law of the land:

"I'm a guest in this country, I'm a guest in this country, I'm a guest in this country."