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Monday, October 12, 2015

{Luke} Six Months

Our sweet boy turned six months old on August 25th! It's hard to believe that those sweet quiet newborn days are long gone. Yes, indeed, quiet is definitely out. Luke is a screecher and is more of a yeller than a crier.

I'm a month behind on this update, so, honestly, I don't remember many of the details. It was the last month of summer (August,) and we were mainly inside the house or other people's houses for playdates and Luke was happily along for the ride.

We had a mini vacation up north in Ras Al Khaimah at the beach and Luke got to experience the beach on a blistering 120 degree day. He took naps on his Uncle Darrin's shoulder in the pool and got passed around to the wait staff in the restaurants. I also gave him a first taste of food accidentally, when he grabbed a french fry out of my hand and then proceeded to choke on a chunk. Good times.

He weighed 15 pounds even at his six month check up and he lost the little bit of chunk he had. He is long and lean!

He circles around from sleeping through the night and NOT every two weeks or so. I'm not sure what's causing it but definitely any sort of routine change throws him off.

Grace plays peek a boo with him and he loves seeing her face!

We love our little buddy and are so thankful for him!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Sophia's Third Birthday- Ice Cream Party Edition

As Sophia's birthday approached I started asking her what kind of party she wanted. She'd mirror back whatever answer Grace had most recently mention (rainbow, Frozen, Tinkerbell,) or another character (Daniel Tiger,) and I would keep steering her away. I've done two character parties and they are just so difficult to pull off here with no craft stores and limited party and color options.

So when she came up with a theme of her own I actually paused for a minute, until I thought it through....


Yep. My sweet little (then) two year old daughter had asked for a FIRE birthday party.

Not a firefighter party.

Not a fireworks party.

Not even a campfire and s'mores type of party.

No. Girlfriend requested a fire party, with "lots of fire everywhere!!"

And, seeing as I didn't want "pyromaniac," to be settled on her permanent record all because of a birthday party theme I looked for an escape route.

Cue the backpeddling and trying to convince her that a Rainbow-Daniel Tiger- Tinkerbell combo party was a better idea than FIRE.

But, as you all know, two year olds aren't the most logical of the human species. She was not having it. All she wanted was fire.

I even went onto Pinterest to prove that a fire theme could not be easily pulled of, but, as luck would have it, there are many a flame top cake options out there.

So instead I chose a theme all by myself and proved it to her via the world wide web. Ice Cream. Just about the exact opposite of fire (well, it would be ICE, right? and Ice would be too close to Frozen, so I went with cute, whimsical ice cream.)

I thank all of the bloggers out there now who have ice cream parties pinned on Pinterest because their beautiful creations saved my hiney.

Sophia was hooked. Ice Cream party it was.

I didn't quite have it all together (as in, I never made an invitation, just sent out some text messages,) but we had a cute ice cream party for Sophia today that was laid back, simple, and so exciting for her!

Party Planning and executing is not my forte, like, at all. But as simple as this one was, and budget friendly, I'm happy with the results.

We had two garlands of ice cream cones that I had printed, cut up, and strung, along with some Sofia the First baloons because I could not find any plain colored balloons. #expatproblems

On the dining room table we had all of the ice cream fixings, including cupcake liners filled with crushed Oreos, M&M's, gummy candies, and waffle cone pieces. We also had sprinkles, caramel and chocolate topping, and maraschino cherries (of course.)

We had a centerpiece of super cute ice cream cones topped with cotton candy. They were suppossed to be our party favors and I made them ahead of time and sealed them in baggies but the few days made the cotton candy shrink and compress into hard scoops, so I just made it decor.

We had a few little snacks, juice boxes, and water, but since it was at snack time I was fairly confident the ice cream cone cupcakes and ice cream would be enough before people left to find their own dinner.

The kids had two activities: one was a craft where they could color and glue down circles (ice cream scoops,) onto a paper plate, then glue down colored paper bits (sprinkles.) The other activity was Pin the Ice Cream Scoop on the cone! It was fun and enough for the kiddos, besides the legos and Disney people we had set up to play with. Any more would have been too much with that crowd (14 kids! plus many of their parents.)

We almost didn't open up presents, but in the end we did. It's pretty split. Obviously our American culture thinks it is very normal to open the presents at the party, but European cultures think it's extremely rude. And seeing as we had Americans, Peruvian, British, Swedish, and Emirati cultures being represented, I didn't know what to do. But Sophia (and all of the kids,) kept asking to open presents so I caved. 

Sophia handed out Marshmallow Sticks as party favors (you're welcome, parents, for sugaring up your children and then sending them home.)

 Sophia was pretty afraid of the candle smoke (oh the irony,) after her birthday candle incident last week, but she humored me and let me light the candle when we sang to her, but insisted I blow out the candle and keep the scary smoke away from her! Poor Soey!

 Happy birthday, sweet girl! It was fun to celebrate you!

Saturday, August 15, 2015


One thousand posts ago I sat down at my college laptop to tap out some thoughts that were rolling through my little head.

I was 21 years old, just graduated from college, and was days away from getting married and moving out of my childhood home for the first time.

This blog has followed us through Ian's grad school and my perilous job search.

It's been right there as we explored our calling to the nations and it has seen our stretching and growing as we have responded to move overseas.

This blog has been my voice as we moved from Orlando, to Nashville, to Richmond, to Vancouver, to Buraimi, and then to Abu Dhabi.

This has been my mental outlet as we sloughed our way through two years of Arabic language school. It was the one place that I felt I could be ALL in English and not feel bad about it.

Far More Than Rubies has been my home as we struggled for a year to conceive our first child, the place we rejoiced with so many when we found out we were expecting, and where we joyfully announced our first, second, and third child!

Slowly, over the years, I have not turned to the blog as much as my motherhood bogs me down some days and leaves me without the ability to form coherent thoughts. If I tried to write on those days it would mostly come out as such:

Kids are fine.
House is semi clean.
Dinner was made.
I like television.

Ha! And that would be about the extent of my thoughts. The days that I can piece together intelligent sentences feel like a big accomplishment, but then I can get overwhelmed with all of the details I need to share. I do love when I get back into a groove though.

So much to share. So much to record. So many things to remember!

And YOU guys. Man. Ya'll are awesome. Some of you have been around since the very beginning. You read through my takes on the honeymoon period when we were dirt poor but madly in love and loving every new experience.

Alot of you joined in when we, as a collective group, where expecting our first children within the same time period. Ya'll are my tribe, even if you don't know it.

Some of you joined in during the crazy, hairy days of moving overseas. You were intrigued about what we were doing and why, and you got a peak into a more "exotic," life. If you can call rats in your grocery store exotic.

And some of you are family. Literally. My family reads as die hard fans, wanting to get the newest update on what the Galloway family is up to. And to catch a glimpse of these sweet babies' faces.

I am so grateful for every one of you.

So here's to 1,000 more.

1,000 more posts.
1,000 more adventures.
1,000 more memories!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Trying New Things

Having lived overseas for five years now (!!!) there are so many things that cease to be exotic and new. In fact, most days are boring and normal. 

As boring and normal as things can be with three little ones, I suppose!

After time you can no longer afford to do touristy things and the things that you have done are old hat. 

We've tried a few new things lately though that have helped us remember why it's great to live in our city!

Ian and I went on a date to a puzzle chamber! (Seen in both The Bachelorette and Big Bang Theory recently.) The premise of a puzzle chamber is that you are "locked," into a room and have to figure out how to get out. 

Our particular one wasn't scary but was a murder mystery that you had to help solve. Puzzles, riddles, keys, combinations, and searching the room with a black light were some of the things that we did all while the clock was ticking. We got stuck on the first puzzle for 30 minutes and ended up having to ask for a clue. We didn't finish in the hour but since we were the last people for the day they let us stay an extra ten minutes and "solve," it. 

It was a lot of fun and something we would love to do with a group. It would also be great pre marital counseling, ha! Locked in a room, forced to work together, seeing how each other work in stressful situations! Such a fun and different date night!

Another new thing I did recently was exercise related. I'm part of an awesome Facebook health accountability group and we set personal goals every six weeks or so. My goal this time was to get in 800 minutes of exercise. We are coming up on the deadline and I needed to get in some time! 

We are too far from any sort of gym or park and it's questionable if it is culturally appropriate to run outside as a woman. (In some parts of the city it would be no problem, but in our area of town it is a gray area.)

I usually get in exercise during one of Luke's nap times but the girls constantly interrupt and it can be a bit frustrating. 

So this week I headed out to our local Formula One* race track for a run.

*as a American Southerner I had never heard of Formula One, just NASCAR. Apparently it's a really big deal. Like, in the whole world. Kind of like how soccer is not really followed as much in the U.S. 

Yas Marina Circuit hosts an open track day on Tuesday nights and a ladies night on Wednesday nights. Cyclists come and use it to get in some major mileage and walkers/joggers go around the outside edge for some well lit, safe, exercise. 

I came right after I put Luke to sleep for the night and was on the track by 7:45. I did two days worth of Couch to 5k in a lap and a half (a lap is 5.5 kilometers.) then things kind of went down hill from there. 

I knew I still had an hour for the track to be open and I was about 2 kilometers into the track. There was one shortcut/turnaround but I missed it. Shortly after my hip started having pain and my feet were completely numb! It took me nearly and hour to finish the track and I was quite possibly the last one off even though there were several hundred people there just an hour before!

It was really neat to walk through the track (seen on The Amazing Race season 23!) and get a bit of a behind the scenes look at the pits and the grandstands. 

I will definitely be coming out again. It would be fun to come with a friend or to rent bikes and ride it!

I even think the girls would love it! 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

{Luke} Five Months

Happy Five Months, Luke!

Luke weighs 15 pounds 8 oz.
He wears size 3-6 months clothes
He wears size 3 diapers

I can't believe we are just weeks away from him being six months- half a year old! So many milestones start happening at six months that I am excited for (food!) but also I am not wishing the days away.

This month had its share of challenges. In his four month update I shared how Luke was starting to drool alot and liked chewing on his hands. That continued through July but included a sleep strike that left Ian and I totally useless for a couple of days! Whether it was teething or growth spurt related we will never know.

Our little buddy is back to his normal schedule. He nurses really fast and he currently wants to be held constantly when he is awake. He's started reaching for cups and spoons when we are eating so starting food next month will be fun!

6 am- Up for the day, feeds.
7:15- Nap
9:30- Wakes up, Feeds
10:30- Sometimes naps but most days we run errands in this time and he cat naps in the car
12:30- Feeds
1:00 pm- Nap
3:30- Wakes up, Feeds
5:00- Naps
5:45- Wakes up
7:00- Bed time!

Luke still doesn't roll over but he loves to sit or stand assisted.

He loves suck on his thumb now to fall asleep. We take him up to his room when he is fully awake, lay him down, and he rolls over onto his left side, puts his thumb into his mouth, and falls asleep. Easy peasy.

Sophie the giraffe is still a favorite toy and he talks to himself sometimes.

Monday, July 27, 2015

{Grace} 4th Birthday- Cinderella Style

Alright ya'll. I have a confession to make.

Two confessions actually.

One: When Grace was still TWO years old and we were in the US, I picked up some Cinderella party supplies for her third birthday party. That party never really happened. So, despite her not really being a fan of Cinderella at nearly FOUR years old, she had a Cinderella party.

Momma's on a budget!

Two: I'm really bad at throwing parties. Or at least making them look nice! Sure, people have a great time and everyone walks away full and happy, but the pictures of the decor and setup? It's not bad photography, it is just my skills are that bad.

Plus, Momma's on a budget! (in a land devoid of crafts supplies stores and dollar spots.)

Alas, the show must go on.

Grace had her friends from church over, many came dressed in princess/prince attire. They made crafts, played games, and opened presents.
Cupcakes and cake were had, birthday songs were sung, and we as parents remarked at how this was the calmest party ever! The kids are just so used to one another that they just payed perfectly and us grown ups got to sit around and chat!

Grace and one of her BFFs, Maya, born also on the same day as Grace!
Happy Birthday, Gracie Girl! We are so excited to see what FOUR brings your way!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

End of School Celebrations

Grace and Sophia finished their year at preschool (called nursery here,) on June 30th, 2015. They had such a great time at school and looked forward to going three half days a week.

Grace was in the oldest class, called the Clever Camels. Her teachers was Ms Victoria, and her helpers were Ms Lucy and Ms Florence. Her class was such a diverse mix of students from so many backgrounds and languages. Pick up time was always interesting because parents would switch from their mother tongue to English as they greeted their children then turned to talk to the teachers! Grace didn't have one "best," friend in the class but did migrate towards 4 or 5 specific kids.

Sophia was in the youngest class but was one of the oldest in the class. Her class was called the Baby Bears. Her teacher was Ms Sarah and her helpers were Ms Joan and Ms Jenny. The first month or two of school was rough on her class, because some of the kids were just barely 18 months old and were there five days a week for 5-6 hours. Many of them came from homes where English was not spoken, then to be put in a classroom where only English was spoken was hard on them. Bless their little hearts! One time, when picking Sophia up, there were 6-7 toddlers standing at the baby gate at the door crying. Her teacher asked me if I had ever seen The Walking Dead, then she pointed at the babies and said that's what they reminded her of when they were just standing at the door moaning with their arms outstretched, ha!

Grace's class had a small graduation ceremony, performance, and party the last week of school. It was so cute to see Grace in a cap and gown but her little hat kept falling over her eyes and so she finally just took it off. She sang and did the motions more than in other performances but still was unsure about the large crowd of people staring and taking constant pictures.

 Sophia's class had a "performance," as well but it was really just a sing a long/ music class that the parents got to sit in on. We arrived late and so weren't really in the circle on the rug but since I had Grace and Luke with me and Ian was at work we needed a little space. Sophia had NO desire to sing or do hand motions so it was just as well.

I had such wonderful memories from my own preschool experience (many moons ago,) and we are so thankful that we were able to provide this for the girls, even on this side of the ocean.

More to come on what's next for our girls.