As we sat here waiting for my friends to come visit I went over a mental checklist to make sure everything was ready:

coffee in a thermos and espresso cups- check
dates- check
a bowl of water to wash hands and cups- check
tea in a thermos and tea cups- check
whole fruit and knife- check
cookies- check
trays to carry everything to the living room- check

Oh, and their brother is coming to visit Drew as well, so I need two of everything…

It’s kind of overwhelming! Then they get here and I try to gracefully welcome them to my home. “Thank you for coming, How are you, How’s your health, How’s your family, May God give you life…Please, please, make yourself comfortable” Lots of kisses, lots of greetings. “Sit, sit!”…Oh man, I forgot to give them the place of honor, farthest from the door.

We all sit and my head is spinning- what’s first? Am I doing this right? Open dates, pour coffee…who am I suppose to serve first again? Is it clockwise? Is it oldest first? Am I serving with the correct hand? When they give me back the coffee cups, do I serve them again? Did they indicate they were done by shaking the cup? I didn’t pay attention! All this is running through my head while I try to carry on a conversation in Arabic, juggle kids, and look like I know what I’m doing.

Next, the fruit. I hate trying to cut fruit just holding it in my hand. Don’t they know how much easier it is to do this on a cutting board? A comment about how rough my apple slices look. Oh well. Pushing them forward I say “Please, eat! eat!” Everyone politely takes a piece of something. Keadryn and Sayla both grab a ton of fruit. Am I suppose to correct them and say it is for our guests? Or is it ok because they are young?

Still trying to look natural and be interested in conversation. But what’s next? Do I serve dessert now, or wait until the fruit is gone? Should I serve the tea with the fruit or dessert? Am I pushing things along too fast? I decide to serve the tea. Everyone takes a cup after asking what kind of tea. Thyme tea is well accepted, but I let it steep too long, points out one of the girls. As they’re finishing tea and handing back cups, I offer dessert. “No thank you”, “We’re full”, “Maybe in a minute”. Oh…I’m going too fast. Should I let everything sit here? Offer more tea? Clear everything? Will that make them feel like it is time to leave? Maybe I’ll just clear the coffee and dates…Try to start clearing and spill the water bowl. Lots of giggles.

We talk a bit more, laugh a lot,and I remember how much I love these girls and it makes me relax a little. I offer cookies again and they accept. We laugh more, talk more and listen to some music. All the food is cleared and soon after they announce it’s time to go. “Thank you so much for coming, Go with peace, May the year bring goodness, May God bless you…” As they walk away I hope it was successful. I hope I honored them. I hope they feel welcome in my home.

As I shut the door, I fall down on the couch. My mind is spent from speaking Arabic and trying to be hostess-with-the-mostess in a culture that, even after 2 1/2 years, I barely understand. As you can see, visiting here is a HUGE deal. Hosting people isn’t about showing off. It is, at the core, about honoring the person who is visiting. By offering them your food, your home, your service, you show them that they are more important than you. The first time you visit they even douse you in perfume when you leave!

I feel the pressure when they come to my home because everything in new and different, but when I visit them they perform the whole sequence with effortless grace. They have been observing and participating in this since they were Keadryn’s age. It is second nature to them. Thankfully, they offer much grace when I don’t do everything perfectly. And, even though it is a bit stressful, I do love this tradition and what it communicates at the heart level. I am so thankful to have friends that always make me feel welcome and honored.

From my last lunch visit:

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granny’s visit: dubai

It sure is fun to go to the big city. We had a wonderful three day vacation showing Granny Dubai…which means lots and lots of malls. I think they should come up with another word though, because a mall in Dubai is in a whole different category than most malls I have been in. Think entertainment, ridiculous attractions, and lots of amazing architecture.

The tallest building in the world, The Burj Khalifa:

The Emirates Mall, with an indoor Ski Slope:

The Medina Jumiera “Souq” (a mall that looks like an old world market)

The Dubai Mall, with it’s crazy fountains, huge aquarium and yummy food:

Perhaps my favorite part of the weekend was getting to go to Redeemer Dubai on Good Friday! It was our “Easter” service and it was nice to celebrate with the Church, and have a place to get all dolled up in our Easter outfits.

It was another great visit to the big city and we are so thankful to have it so close by that we can pop up there!

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granny’s visit: around town

If you are a friend on facebook you know that Granny (Drew’s mom) has been here for the past week.  It was such a blessing to have her here: doting on the girls, spending some time together, and seeing where we live.  She left a couple days ago and saying goodbye was very hard. Number one most sucky thing about living here is, for certain, the distance.

BUT we are thankful (so, so thankful) for any time we get with loved ones- so keep those visits coming!

Granny brought an entire suitcase of surprises for us and brilliantly decided to give them to the girls a little bit at a time. Everyday the girls had a fun little gift or something fun to make with Granny. They loved it and both said it was their favorite part of her trip.

Granny said her favorite day was when we went took her to an Oasis about 30 minutes from town. The drive to the Oasis is pretty desolate and brown:

But it shows the dramatic difference at the oasis and really make you feel like you are in some tropical paradise. :)

We also got to decorate eggs one afternoon:

Showed Granny around the old ruins:

But mostly just spent time together. Playing games, snuggling babies, eating meals, reading books, taking baths…you know the regular day stuff. It was so great to let Granny get a peak of our daily life and I think it helped her to know a little bit about where we live.

Next up: Showing Granny around Dubai!

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beach camping

Last week we finally got to take our camping trip that we were suppose to take in january, but it was postponed because we all got sick.

We went with friends and they are camping experts and have tons of gear.  They have quite the setup with a table, shades, a multi-room tent, they even have a camping porta-potty. We looked like such rookies! We had two tents (we borrowed one from Chase and Britt). Keadryn and Sayla shared a tent and me, Evie and Drew shared the other one. It worked out pretty good.  I was a bit nervous about how Evie would do in a tent, but she did great! She did wake up right at first light (which was about 5:30…) but she also went to sleep right at dark (about 7:15). The waves worked as perfect white noise.

Evie was also covered in sand the entire weekend…and I mean covered. It was in her hair, on her face, in her diaper, in every tiny fold of skin and all over her face. Covered. It made re-applying sunscreen a challenge, but my choices were to strap her into her car seat and let her scream, or let her be covered in sand. :) I chose sand.

The older girls also had a blast. They are such water babies and turning into beach bums. :) I think Keadryn was in the water 90% of the time. Sayla had a run-in with a big wave and was a bit leery of the ocean for a bit, but by the end of the trip she was right there with Keadryn again loving every minute in the water.

Drew got to steal away and go snorkeling for a bit and said it was beautiful. We just ordered an underwater camera, so hopefully next time there will be some pics of that!

Speaking of cameras, I was super stressed out about getting sand in my camera, so I only took it out of the car a few times.   There aren’t many “action shots” of the weekend…but I did have a very relaxing photo walk one evening.

I loved all the moss on the rocks at low tide…there were also a ton of crabs peaking out from the moss, but they were pretty skittish and I didn’t get a decent picture.

All in all it was a great (free!) getaway and we will definitely be doing it again!

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We have had a horrible haze sitting in the air for over a week now. It is windy, dusty, and hasn’t rained in a looong time. Wait…this sounds like another town we have lived in…we can really pick ’em. Anyway, people are walking with their heads low and turbans wrapped around their faces and staying inside. These guys found a nice shelter out of the wind and dust.

Don’t you just love this picture? I didn’t take it, Drew did. Way to go, Drew!

Hoping the dust settles soon.

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a good day.

Has it really been a month since we did a visa hop? I guess it has, the months are flying by! While we wait patiently  for our residence visas, we have visas that last one month. That means that every 30 days, we hop in the car drive across the border, exit one country and enter another thus renewing our visas. It’s kind of a complicated process and it is made more confusing by the fact that the two countries decided to place their borders 30 miles from each other. We have to go to both borders in order to exit and enter both countries. The whole thing in theory is a three hour process. In theory. We, however usually take the opportunity to go into the town across the border that has things like grocery stores, and starbucks, and a zoo, and parks, and grass…so for us it usually takes a whole day.

This month we got some guest passes from a friend to go to the pool at the Hilton. It was glory.

The girls LOVED both the kiddy pool and the big pool (with a slide!)

The hotel wasn’t at all crowded (and the weather was per.fect.).

And best of all, the girls were all getting along and in wonderful moods. What a grace it is to have days like this!

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’round here…

…We stay up very, very, very,very late… I love the Counting Crows, and that song, and its true- we DO stay up way too late.

I’m random, I know. Did you know that the “post title” could possibly be the number one reason I don’t post more? I hate finding a title.

Anyway, here is some of whats been going on ’round here:

I started the 365 project again…only this year is a leap year, so it is a 366 project. I decided to do it again after watching a slideshow of my last 365. SO many little mundane things happened that wouldn’t have been recorded otherwise and that I would have lost memory of. This year is a fun year to do it, too!

We finally had the Pajamas+Pancakes birthday party for Evie! The complete write up will be over on the kojo blog soon.

Last I posted, Kead wasn’t doing too great. She is still having the hardest time of the three girls, but it is definitely getting better! She is going to an international school now where she is thriving (and learning to speak with a British vocab and accent…so funny). She is also loving ballet and asks everyday when it is ballet day. Glad to see her little smile more these days. Man, she is beautiful.

So, our town is not little in size (about 80,000, I think?) But it is seriously lacking in amenities, so we usually drive either to a bigger city in Oman or to Dubai to do our shopping. Since it is about a 2 hour drive both ways we always try to pair it with some fun in the Big City. This time we  went to a children’s musuem:

Did we tell you that two friends from Lubbock moved here? Kevin and Andrew are going to language school and live in an apartment next door to us! They are wonderful with the girls and troopers for driving 2 hours to join us at a children’s museum. (Or it could be that our town is insanely boring…) We love them.

Part of the fun of going to the museum was playing at the playground. It was nice to just sit on grass and watch the three crazies play.

Ok- that’s all that is going on. Lots of mundane and I am happy to say we are slowly getting into (dare I say it?) a routine. “Routine” has not described our life in so long that I welcome it with open arms! I am hoping that this little blog can become part of the routine as well so that it is more than a once a month occurrence.

Missing you all! Write a comment or e-mail and let us know you’re still there!


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first visitors

Friends, I’m going to be honest- we are limping along here! Has it really been five weeks since our friends came to visit? I have been intending to post- but we have been sick.sick.sick. Lots of fevers, lots of coughing, and lots of being exhausted! We are mostly on the mend ( as I type I can hear Say Grace coughing herself to sleep) and slowly re-entering the world.

We had a fantastic visit by two friends, Katie and Corie, from Lubbock at the end of December. They came for two weeks and stayed with us at our house. I love getting to show people around our beloved little country. It is a blessing to experience things with a fresh set of eyes, ears, tastebuds, nostrils (ok, maybe I could do without nostrils in several situations…) and fall deeper in love with this people and land.

Another great thing on this trip was that both the girls love photography so I had two extra people to insist on photo drives, and do weird things like sit down in the middle of a crowded market to get the perfect shot. I loved every minute. That being said, are you ready for the picture overload? This is in no way completely comprehensive of all we did, but here are some hightlights:

Around the old fort in our town:

A trip down the coast:

At the big souq in the capital:

A climb up the dunes:

And a fabulous trip to Global Village in Dubai.

Fun right? Now you should come visit too!

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the smash cake

This week our sweet Evie Kate turned one! It wasn’t too crazy of a day, just a couple presents and a simple lunch with friends. We are still planning on doing a birthday party, but we have all been under the weather for a couple weeks, so we decided to postpone it until we are all better. She did enjoy her “test-run” cupcake…quite a lot! Happy One sweet baby girl!

*updated to add* Yes, Evie was such a sad bear when it was all over and I took away the remains of the cake and started cleaning up… it was actually pretty funny how dramatic she was being about it all. :)

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ms. evie

After the last post I realized I didn’t mention anything about Evie Kate. No, we didn’t trade her for a persian rug or anything…she is still here, and the most adorable baby sister there ever was.  So here is a post about all things evie.

She is now 11 months old, crawling, pulling up on everything, and doing the “baby stand” all by herself. (Drew calls it the wobbly-let-go-and-hover-thing-that baby’s-do-before-they-walk). She has two teeth barely popping through on the bottom. My kids are late teethers.

She started eating food somewhere along the way and loves everything we have given her. She prefers finger food to food on a spoon, and baby food here is crazy expensive, so most of the time she gets small bits of whatever we are eating. I think she has only had real baby food a handful of times, but honestly I love it because she keeps herself occupied and eats while we are eating.

She is still not sleeping through the night. Ugh. Seriously? She is 11 months old and still wakes up one or two times at night. At first we thought it was because we were moving and she was in our room…but, no. She has her own room now and still nothing has changed. I think at some point we are going to have to let her cry it out for a couple nights in a row, but we haven’t mustered up the strength for sleepless night while she figures it out. I’ll let you know how it goes.  Really, in the grand scheme of baby-problems it isn’t that bad.

The girl has been for sure our most laid back baby, but as she approaches one year she is really getting some sass and a per-son-al-i-ty! Most the time it make us laugh, and it is fun to watch her develop her own preferences.

I am pretty sure she is our last baby, unless something drastic happens and we decide to add to our family through adoption, but I am so enjoying this time with her. She is SUCH a joy and so so sweet. The perfect little addition to our family. What a blessing!


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