spring break

Hi friends. Rememeber my promise to update the blog more? Well…sorry about that. I have kind of been in a photography slump lately. My poor 4th child just sits in my bag untouched and unloved for days on end. I’m not doing the 365 this year- and that has a lot to do with it. But I think I am kind of in an ex-pat funk as well. Its been 1.5 years since we moved back to the Arabian Peninsula and things are really lack luster around here lately. I know its normal and that culture adjustment ebbs and flows…but I haven’t found much that interests me in the past couple weeks. I know it will change again soon and I will be loving it again. That’s just how it goes living in another culture. :)

That being said- we have had a great couple weeks of guests and it lined up perfect with the girls spring break!

We started off with Easter-  We spent it with some good friends in a nearby town. Sunday is the middle of the week here and we definitely had some onlookers and strange glances as we did our Easter lesson and egg hunt in the middle of a park. haha.
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I also made these super simple crepe paper flowers and a grass table runner. :) Welcome “spring!”
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After Easter we had a really special visit! Alissa and Maggie Rose came to see us! It was super last minute but we were so thankful to see them. We had already planned a trip down the coast and they just jumped right in and did that with us!  Did I say I have been horrible at taking pictures lately? I have. And I didn’t take a single picture of our friends that flew halfway around the world to see us.  I did, however take a couple pictures of our trip down the coast. We have been looking at some business opportunities and took a trip down the coast of Oman stopping in a bunch of towns doing some market research (more on this soon). I just love the coastal towns of Oman. The bright blue sea, the buildings,the forts and rocks and white washed buildings feels like a different place in time.
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We didn’t have a ton of time to do the “usual” tourist things with Alissa, but we did make a quick stop at the souq so that Alissa could see it. The souq with kids is always quite interesting, as it is crowded, not very “stroller friendly” and requires a lot of time bargaining to get a good price for items. Even so, it is one of my favorite places in Oman and I am happy Alissa got to see it.

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We arrived back at home just in time to welcome 6 other friends from Lubbock (including Andy, Alissa’s husband) and had a few short days with them as well.
We mostly hung out around home with them…but got to go to Hashel’s farm, one of our favorite things to do with visitors.
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And here is the one and only picture I got with our friends (just the girls)

I am so thankful to have such wonderful friends that come visit and make the ocean not seem so big.

And hopefully soon we will have some exciting news about business and life here, so I may even blog twice in one month. Just maybe. :)

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my girls

Just wanted to write a little update on my girlies. Thankfully, everyone has been doing well and getting back into routine. The big girls are in school again and loving it. I mean, they really do love it. When we were moving here, school is what gave me the most anxiety and our first daycare school was such a disaster, but this school has been such a blessing to us! Both girls love their teachers, have great friends and are learning a ton! What more could we ask for?
Oh, and Kead has several loose teeth/ teeth growing in! Did you even know that could happen?? It is so bizarre- the grown up teeth are growing in behind the baby teeth, but the baby teeth haven’t fallen out yet. So weird! Uncle/Dentist Adam says its pretty common and not to pull the baby teeth if they aren’t ready…but I am a teensy bit sad to not have the classic toothless smile pic. :)

She is just getting so big.

Sayla is also doing great and (I assume) all is well in her own world. We sit outside her door and listen to her from time to time; talking to herself, talking to her stuffed animals, singing, talking to Sonny and Bunny (fully Sayla’s friends now)…she makes us giggle so much and I love her spirit. She also came home with a near perfect report card. We were wondering how so much time in “La La Land” was affecting her at school, but she is doing great there too!

The big girls have also re-started ballet class and are having a great time. And I just love the little ruffles and buns and ballet shoes. I think I take a picture of them every time before they go to class because I just never get over the cuteness!
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Evie is starting to talk a ton and that is so much fun. She turned two in January and we had a really really simple party here. (We had a big party in denver).  I am just loving this stage of life with her! While Drew is at work and the bigs are at school, we get to hang out together and I cherish it. She is so spunky and funny and such a joy.

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some qt on the beach

As much fun as it is to see family and friends, 2 months of being with loved ones nonstop left us pretty “peopled” out. We got home to the most amazing weather our country has to offer and were dying to unplug and have some time as just us. So, we took a few days to get over jet lag (MUCH harder with a two year old who thinks 2:00am is a perfectly acceptable wake up time) then we packed up and headed to the beach for a three day weekend. It was just what our souls needed; quality time together in a kid friendly and adult fabulous location. Oh, and we were the only ones on our beach. Perfect.

a view of camp from the water:

a view down the beach from the tent:

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We also spent one evening watching the tide roll in and the waves crash over the rocks. It was really amazing and loud and beautiful.

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While the tide was out the girls played (and played and played) on the moss covered rocks and in the little pools while we watched them from the shade (I know my sisters are so disappointed in me for not bronzing myself in the sun…but I have just given up the fight and accepted that it is too much work for something that isn’t gonna happen)

On our last day we packed up early and drove through a part of the country we haven’t seen before- it was fabulous! We saw little villages and beautiful scenery…
And some animals too
We also saw about 10 whales right off of the coast! It was so so cool, but I didn’t get any pictures because they were too far off the coast to show up. But we watched them splash around and blow water out of their spouts for 15-ish minutes. It was truly incredible.

Like I said, perfect time to be together and make fun family memories. So thankful for the “winter” weather in Oman and how much there is to explore and enjoy!

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the blog hiatus


So you may have noticed that the blog has been pretty quiet lately. I’m not really sure why. I have been documenting life daily through photos (pretty sure the total of edited photos for 2012 is close to 7,000…). I occasionally put one or two on facebook and I put one a day on flickr, but most of them just sit on my computer collecting gigadust.

I love readings other people’s blogs and keeping up with the news, big or mundane. I just haven’t been able to motivate myself to consistently blog. I considered scratching the blog all together, but while we were home for Christmas I had many of you encourage me to keep it up, so I’m going to try to revive it.

While the blog was on extended holiday, a lot has been going on with us. We had visitors, welcomed new babies, took trips, visited family and friends in the US and came back across the ocean. Phew.

So now your up to date- in a nutshell. :) Oh, and if you want the day by day photos be sure to check last year’s 366 project and I’m doing 7 photos a week this year, so you can always keep up that way too.

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a couple more.

Just a couple more of my favorite moments from the trip back to Colorado.
Lots of sister time.

The glorious wonderful mountains in the fall.

The 2 hour drive to and from grandpa’s was beautiful and such great family time!

And these two. They are both so full of spunk that watching them try to figure out who is the boss is pretty hilarious.

Again, so blessed and thankful for the time we got to spend together.

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Sometimes I see a picture like this and I get a tight feeling in my chest. Time has rushed by and, all of a sudden, I see two beautiful girls. My babies are gone; they are kids. My heart swells as I study them. Their expressions, their body language, even Kead’s “peace sign” that she picked up from school make me feel so proud and panicky at the same time. I love them so. It’s going too fast.

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Guys, everytime I sit down and try to write about my trip home, I end up with a blank page staring back at me.  My heart is heavy. For those who don’t know, Evie and I got on an airplane about72 hours after hearing the news that my grandfather was diagnosed with esophagus cancer (at the time they thought it was a tumor) that was quickly closing his throat. We made a quick decision as a family that I should go home quickly and get to spend time with him rather then go home to attend a funeral.  It was such a special, unexpected grace to get to see my family. It was so wonderful to laugh and cry and hug and talk. It was hard.  It is hard.  One month, to the day, after I made the trip to see grandpa, he passed away. It was the right decision to go home when I did and I will forever cherish memories of those last couple visits. I am thankful to have known such a wonderful man.

For now I don’t have much to say, but looking at these pictures of my favorite place on earth is comforting to me, so I am going to share them with you. If you think about it, take a minute to pray for peace and comfort for my dad and his family.

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celebrating sayla grace.

I don’t know if it is a middle child thing, or maybe the fact that her birthday is also the beginning of school, or just a time when we are super busy, but Sayla’s birthday hasn’t always been a huge deal. If it weren’t for Granny, there are two years that we would have done nothing at all. Not that she has complained; Sayla has such a sweet demeanor and outlook on life that I could easily get by with store bought cupcakes or a trip to get ice cream every year. But, we make a huge deal out of the other girls birthdays, so I really wanted to do something special for Sayla. (Maybe that is the middle child in me coming out. haha!)

This year we had a whole week of Sayla celebration. First we went to Dubai with the McGoughs and Traci and had a fabulous Sayla-planned-day! We started by letting the girls go to Smaland at IKEA…by request of the birthday girl, of course. After their hour was up we took them to the next surprise: Build-a-Bear! Every time we pass the store, both girls beg to go in, but we have always said no (going in somewhere like Build-a-Bear and coming out empty handed sounds like torture with three little girls). Well, I found some coupons for buy-one-get-one bears so we decided to let the girls do it (And Chase and Britt got a bear for Lydia too)!

At first they were super concerned with the deflated bears we let them choose from, but quickly got excited about the whole filling process!

As soon as the girls caught on, it was hard keeping up with them. And, let me just say, those build-a-bear people sure do know their market! The outfits? and bear dress-up area? and panties? and accessories? and jammies? for a bear? We had a near melt down as we were taking accessories and such off of Keadryn’s bear and (after realizing the outfit she assembled was well over $50) we had to say no to several things but each girl walk away with one outfit and one pair of shoes (Except Evie, who didn’t really think much of the clothes and wanted her bear without- which was fine with us!) and they were all happy.

The next stop on our “Day-for-Sayla” was the Rainforest Cafe (also per Sayla’s request and with a coupon) and I can’t believe it, but I didn’t take a single picture. I seriously have no idea why? It was so fun and the girls had a blast (Although Keadryn did admit she thought we were going to eat in a real rainforest). It really was a great day!

Oh, and once we got home we made these crowns for Angelina and Princess Sparkle (as oppose to buying the $12 crowns at the store) and both girls we so happy with them:

But the partying didn’t stop there! A couple days later was Sayla’s actual birthday. All she wanted for her birthday was shoes (with a heel), earrings, hair clips, nail polish, etc. Seriously, she didn’t ask for a single toy! I’m in so much trouble with this one.

She is in love with her “clunky shoes” and asks to wear them everywhere. Since they are 2 sizes too big (I could only find a heel in the bigger kid shoes) I have to limit wearing them in public, but she wears them around the house all the time and on her birthday I let her wear them to the grocery store. Big deal.

THEN the day after her birthday we had her Puppy Party! I have to say, as far as pleasing the kids goes, this is my best party yet! They were so excited about every detail, were counting down the minutes until guests arrived and are still talking about it. It makes my heart so happy to see them love something that I put a lot of time into. The full write up is over on the Kojo Blog.

It was such a fabulous week of celebrating out sweet 4 year old. She is such a joy and grace to us. Love you Say Grace!

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more summer.

Moving on with summer…We got back from Prague right smack in the middle of 120+ degree weather and Ramadan. Holidays are an interesting time to be an outsider. For locals, Ramadan is a time of festivity, family, special food, special traditions, visits and a great sense of community. Life goes at a slooow pace and most things are closed during the day. As it is the month of fasting, there is also no eating allowed in public places and all restraunts are closed. After sundown the feasting and visiting begin. Think thanksgiving dinner amounts of food every single day for a month.

Our friends were very welcoming during this time and we had many late night visits (people stay up eating and partying all.night.long) and shared in many wonderful traditions. It is a time when you feel very involved in the community and yet very much not part of it at all. Kind of confusing, I know.

Anyway- At the end of Ramadan is the Eid celebration. It is a fun couple days of visiting and everyone gets to dress up in special Eid dresses and the kids get little treats and money. We had a great time seeing friends and the girls LOVED dressing up and getting candy everywhere we went.

Also during Ramadan, some sweet friends from Texas had a 2 day layover in Dubai and we got to hang out with them and do something new! Until now, we have just admired the Burj Khalifa from the base, but this time we went up to the viewing deck on the 124th floor. The elevator was…highly uneventful. It goes so fast that it take less than a minute and the only way you know you are going so high is that your ears pop. The girls loved the lights and music though.

The views from the deck were hard to grasp. Everything just looked so…small.

We are glad we got to do it, but because Dubai is such a hazy and hot city in the summer, I think if we do it again we will wait for the cooler winter (the dust settles a bit and the views are a bit better, too.)

We also took them down to the old Gold Souq. It has been quite some time since I’ve been down there, but it was fun to go see again.

Well, that gets me caught up through August and the end of Ramadan! Next up…Sayla’s birthday festivities.

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day trip to karlstejn

I know that this trip took place over 3 months ago. I know that I have been really really sparse in updating the blog. I know that there are only 3 people that read this anymore (Hi mom!)…but still. This trip was amazing and we had a wonderful time and I don’t want the pictures to get buried on my external hard drive never to be found again. So there.

Our second day in The Czech Republic we took Georgia’s advice and got out of the city. I am SO glad we did. We took a train to a little town about 30 minutes away. I love trains. As far as travel goes, I am pretty sure trains are my favorite way to get around. You see so much of the landscape and it is just so relaxed (Unless, of course, you accidentally put your luggage in the wrong area and security is sure it is an explosive device and tries to stop the train, confiscate and implode your bag…but that’s a story for another time).

Oh, and I should mention that Drew had the camera most of this day. He is really wanting to learn more about photography so I loosened my death grip on “child #4”  and let him do most of the shooting for the day. It was fun (and extremely hard) to just take in the sites and not worry about the photos. And it is nice to be in some pictures on a vactaion for once. :)

When we arrived in Karlstejn (Karl-stein) We stopped at a fun little inn for some coffee. Apparently a classic car club decided to stop for coffee too, and it was fun to see all the cars!

And the little town was just adorable.

The road winded up to a castle built by King Charles IV of Bohemia. We hiked up the hill to the castle and even did the tour. I usually don’t like guided tours, but it was the only way to see inside the castle and it was actually really interesting; one of the best I have bee on! Of course, no photography allowed on the tour, but here it is from the outside:

On our way down the hill, we stopped again for a little roadside lunch. Can I just say, I love Czech food. Lots of brats and cheese and rye and kolaches. I definitely felt in touch with my Ludwig roots!

It is usually rainy in the summer in Prague, but we went during a drought and heatwave so there was no rain in the forecast. Most people see this as a bonus, but I was super bummed. But then, the afternoon clouds rolled in and we got a wonderful little shower and cloud cover. So good for my heart.

Then we hopped the train back to town…

And finished the evening and the trip at the Cafe Louvre (another tip from Georgia). It was the perfect ending to a wonderful birthday celebration. And I am still dreaming about the hot cocoa.

So that’s that. Next up is a summer recap. I have a goal to have the blog *gasp* updated in the next two weeks. :)

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