Wednesday, November 11

i think we might be weird...

so i've been thinking about our move to the US for a while now (since we were planning on coming in december) and i've come to the conclusion that we might be weird when we move back. we'll do things like use cloth diapers, have a garden to grow our own vegetables, compost, conserve water, hang our clothes out to dry instead of using a dryer. these are things that i used to make fun of my mom for - and now it'll be me. we do all of those things here and it seems so normal. well, we don't have a garden but that's because fresh fruits and veggies are right up the street. and all this stuff that we do is more out of necessity or to save money, but now it seem weird to me to dry clothes in the dryer if you can hang them up instead or to use disposable diapers when the cloth ones are clean. it seems wasteful to throw away paper and banana peels instead of putting them in the compost bucket or to take a really long, hot shower (even though i loooove doing that and probably still will). so we'll probably keep doing these things, even when we don't have to. and now i'll be weird like my mom was. maybe i can pass it on to hiba.

Thursday, November 5

moving on....

so, some big changes in our life. well, really just one - we're leaving palestine on nov. 16. yes, like in eleven days.

we had an appointment to extend our visas through december last week. we really weren't worried about it and figured that since we have a one-way ticket to leave in two months, they would give us the extension. well, we were denied. and they gave us two weeks to leave. so, we either have to overstay our visa or leave by nov. 16.

the problem with overstaying our visa is that when we leave, we would probably get blacklisted and not allowed into israel/palestine for at least five years. before we actually got denied, we had said we were just going to stay no matter what. but when we actually had the decision to make and thought through the actual consequences, we realized that we should probably leave. so after a night of prayer and talking it through, we've decided that leaving is the right thing to do.

so, in less than two weeks we'll be back in the US. it's a very bitter-sweet decision. on the one hand, we only had another six weeks after that anyway, so it's not so hard to say good-bye. plus we're going back to family and friends and the comforts of living in our home country. but on the other hand, we have a very short time to say good-bye to our friends and "family" here, people who we have spent the last three years of our life with, the place where we have started our family. not to mention all the stuff we have to do in order to actually leave in less than two weeks.

we'll try to keep everyone updated as we make decisions. we're looking forward to finding out what is next for us....

Sunday, November 1

Happy Halloween!

people don't really celebrate halloween here, but there were enough americans around to make it a fun day. first, we dressed up hiba and matthias and went to rachel's to make carmel apples.

hiba was a ballerina.
matthias was a pumpkin....

...who was a little happier in his daddy's arms than in a chair.
making carmel apples at rachel's.

matthias missing all the excitement.

then we stopped by erich and candice's for a while. hiba and opal were dressed the same, so we tried to get a few pictures - they weren't so interested though.

we had fun eating the carmel apples and playing.

later, jason and i went to a halloween party. he dressed up as the mayor of beit sahour and i went as our friend andrew. my costume was pretty good, although the clothes had been recently washed and didn't smell bad, so it wasn't exactly like andrew. :-P jason's costume was a huge hit at the party, as most of our friends like the mayor just as much as we do.

Thursday, October 29

Zeus and Pictures

"matthias" is quite a big name for a little guy. so he needs a nickname. we don't really want to call him matt, so we came up with zeus. well, jason came up with zeus. it's easy for hiba to say and it makes sense with his name. how does it make sense with his name? well, glad you asked. here's how...

in beit sahour, most people don't pronounce "th", they say "z" instead. so "matthias" would become "mazias". nicknames for babies are usually made by replacing vowels with an "oo" sound. so, "hiba" would become "hiboo" and "mazias" would become "mazoos". hence the nickname "zeus".

anyway, i tried to upload pictures, but apparently our internet isn't fast enough. so, you can see pictures from this fall here. enjoy!

Wednesday, October 21

where does the time go?

so it's only been two and half weeks since my last post (which is actually kind of a long time), but so much has happened in that time. really, i feel like we've had matthias forever, although he's only a month old. time flies when you're having fun, right? so here is the run-down of the last couple of weeks....

-paidia built a ropes course. the first one in palestine. it's pretty awesome. we had a contractor come over from the US for a week to help build it. when he got here, of course everything went wrong and things weren't ready, so in the end they had three days to build it. and they got it done. you can see pictures and videos on paidia's website.

-my mom came to visit. she was actually here for the ropes course building, which was excellent since jason worked at least 12 hours each day that week. i had so much fun having her here. she played with hiba, taught her song, held matthias, made us dinners, cleaned my was great. it made me really excited to be moving closer to family. and i know that when we live there the novelty of seeing us will wear off and i won't get my house cleaned and meals cooked all the time, but hiba and matthias will get to know their grandparents and aunts and uncles and that is exciting.

-hiba started talking. and doesn't really stop. ever. she babbles a lot, but also learns new words every day. she knows a lot of food words (her favorite category), lots of her toys, some animals, names, body parts, and random words she hears. she only speaks in english, but the people at daycare insist that she understands arabic too. and she seems to when jason or saleem talk to her. she seems so grown up now, between having a new baby around and having her talking all the time.

-matthias turned one month. he's a growing boy! literally - he weighs 5.6 kilos, which is 12.3 pounds. he is huge. he has started smiling every once in a while, but still mostly sleeps and eats. i think he is much more of a home body than hiba ever was, because he is on a perfect schedule if we're home all day, but not so great if we're not. it's fun to see already how he is going to be different than hiba.

-we bought our plane tickets. we are coming back to the US on december 30. now that it's official, it's weird that we're leaving. i'm excited and sad, but i still feel like it is time for us to leave here. we're flying out of amman instead of tel aviv, which could be a fun adventure. or it could be the worst idea ever, since it means more border crossings and a hotel with two kids. we'll see.

my next post will be filled with cute pictures and maybe video clips of my adorable kids. i know you're all holding your breath....

Wednesday, September 30

culturally incompetent

it's tradition here for women to stay in bed (or at least at home) for 40 days after giving birth. since families all live close to each other or together, the woman's mother or mother-in-law does the shopping, cooking, takes the baby to appointments, etc. the woman basically does nothing except rest and take care of the new baby.

this is what i have done since matthias was born:
-worked at paidia's carnival for two nights when matthias was less than a week old....he came with me.
-taken matthias to drs. apointments and blood tests by myself - walked to one, drove to two
-walked hiba to/from daycare while carrying matthias in a baby bjorn - a crazy concept here
-went grocery shopping a couple of times...usually with matthias in his bjorn
-cooked meals and cleaned the house

people here think i'm crazy.

but, my mom will be here in less than a week, so i'll take advantage of that and sleep some and let her cook. :-) too bad she's not staying for 40 days.

Friday, September 18

who the heck is this guy?!? -by hiba

on tuesday, i woke up and it was a normal day. me, mama, dada, and mama's belly named matthias. i was the center of the world (obviously) and everything was fine and dandy. mama seemed a little busy all day, packing lots of different bags and making lots of lists. but she always makes lists, so no big deal.

in the afternoon, i went over to rachel's. i like rachel, so this was fine. i got to ride in her car, which has a radio and i got to have pizza for dinner. i slept at her house, which was kind of strange, but it was fun. i talked in my sleep a lot about mama and dada - i guess i missed them.

then, everything changed. dada came to pick me up from rachel's and instead of taking me to daycare, he took me to where mama was. they called it the hospital. she looked different. matthias was gone and instead of her belly, there was a baby that they kept calling matthias. but i don't know what happened, because i thought matthias was her belly. and she was holding the baby and kissing him. she tried to kiss me too, but i wouldn't let her. i tried to leave the room, but dada wouldn't let me. so then i tried to throw a fit to get attention, but they just kept looking at the baby. then they tried to get me to sit by mama, but i didn't want to. not until she got rid of the other baby. but, none of this seemed to be making them happy, so after a while i decided to try to be nice to the baby. so i gave him a kiss and sat on mama's bed with them. she gave me hugs and kisses too, so i know she still loves me.

thursday morning when i woke up, mama still wasn't home. this was not really ok with me. so i was a little cranky. but then i got to go to daycare, where everyone loves me. this is because i'm the cutest. when dada came to pick me up, mama was in the car! i was so happy to see her! finally, everything would be back to normal. and then....that baby was in the car too!!! what?!?! why was he following us?!? what is the deal? he came home with us and he got to hang out with mama while i had to take a nap. this was not cool. i was not happy at all.

so now it's friday and he's still here. i am starting to like him. i know that baby matthias is not mama's tummy, but my new baby brother. i like to say "baby" a lot, because i like him. but i don't like to sleep because i'm afraid that there will be another baby getting all up in my space when i wake up, or mama and dada will be gone again. and i don't like sharing my toys with anyone. and i don't really like it when mama or dada holds baby matthias. but i'm getting used to it. i guess i have to, because it doesn't look like he's leaving any time soon.

Thursday, September 17

Matthias Edward

our son was born on tuesday. i'm very glad he's here. i'm also very glad to not be pregnant anymore. so here's the story...
two weeks ago, my doctor told me that i might have to be induced early because my fluid level was low. now, as much as i didn't like the idea of being induce, i liked the idea of not being pregnant even more and kind of got excited about this idea. and while i had originally geared myself up mentally to be overdue, like i was with hiba, the glimmer of hope he gave me made all those patient thoughts fly right out the window. but, when i went back to the doctor the next week, he said everything looked fine and we could wait. then, he did a little procedure that was makes 90% of women go into labor naturally within 48 hours, so i still had a little hope. however, i realized that this time around i fall into the elite 10%.

so after a long week of waiting and nothing happening, i went back to the dr. on tuesday, which was my due date. by this time i felt overdue, huge, and uncomfortable so we had decided that as long as the doctor said everything looked good and healthy, i would check into the hospital and have them break my water to put me into labor. so, that's what we did.

i checked into the hospital around 5 p.m. it was dinner time, so they let me eat (which i actually appreciated because otherwise i would have been starving during labor) and then took me up to the delivery room. the doctor on duty came in at 6:35 and broke my water. he said he'd be back in 2 hours to check on me and if hard labor hadn't started by then, he'd give me some medicine to speed things up.

he never made it back.

matthias was born at 8 p.m. yes, 1 hour and 25 minutes later. it was pretty intense. i had a great midwife and a wonderful husband to help me through. matthias was 4.27 kilos or 9 lbs. 7 oz. - quite a big little guy. he is healthy and doing great - so far he basically sleeps and eats. it's pretty crazy that we're a family of four now, but we're all excited (well, hiba's not too excited, but that's another post for another day) and can't wait to see what the future holds for us.

matthias edward pollack, sept. 15, 2009

Wednesday, September 9

things i couldn't have done today if i had a baby...

trying to stay on the positive side....

-take a two hour nap while hiba took a two and half hour nap
-bagels and coffee with jamie
-stir-fry for dinner
-play settlers of catan with friends (or online...)
-slept in

but, since i got to do all that great stuff today, i'm still ok with having a baby tomorrow.

Sunday, September 6

The Drama of the Mechanics Continues...

so we finally gave in and switched mechanics. only, ziad doesn't really know this. i mean, we never told him that we're taking our car somewhere else, we just stopped taking it to him. this is a tricky situation, since we don't really want to hurt his feelings or anything, but he just doesn't do his job, at least with our car.

so last week, we took our car to our new mechanic to get some little stuff fixed. we know we'll need to sell it in december, plus we have to get our yearly check done in october, and we figure if we start trying to fix all the little stuff now, it'll be in good shape by the time we need it to be. anyway, jason took the car and when he got to the garage, musa was there. musa works with ziad. this is not good.

musa acted kinda strange and wouldn't really tell jason what he was doing at the new garage. but musa is always a little strange, so we figured that word would get back to ziad and it would all blow up. however, when i went back the next morning to pick up the car, musa was there again. our new mechanic came over to me and told me "musa....he doesn't work here, ok? don't say he works here." and then it became clear. apparently musa has two jobs - one that ziad doesn't know about. so he has two jobs, we have two mechanics and neither of us can tell ziad, so it's all good.

Sunday, August 2

5 Down, Lots More to Go

this weekend, jason and i went to haifa to celebrate our 5-year wedding anniversary. it was a really nice trip. we left hiba with erich and candice, which made it way more enjoyable. we realized that it was our first time away from her since she's been born, so it was about time. she has spent the night with some friends of ours here before, but we've never actually gone away. and for two whole nights! it was great.

we stayed at a little guest house in the german colony. the guest house was not quite as great as advertised, but it did have a well-working air conditioning unit in our room, so i was quite pleased with that. the german colony was great. it had tons of little cafes and restaurants, a really nice area to walk around, a great view of the ocean, and it's right at the foot of the baha'i gardens.

saturday we hit the beach for most of the day. i sat under an umbrella, listened to my ipod, and watched people most of the day - which was actually a lot of fun. there were a lot of interesting people there. and it was so nice to just relax and not do anything. i saw way more speedos than i've ever wanted to, including several on fat, old men. i really hope that this whole speedo phenomenon isolates itself to europe and the surrounding area and does not spread to the u.s. but anyway....

besides the beach, we enjoyed some great meals and went to see the newest harry potter movie. that was jason's present to me - he hates movie theaters, so it was a really good present. we also got a lot of time to just relax and hang out together, something we haven't gotten to do a lot lately. it was fun to look back over the last five years and think of what we've done and where we've been. if you told us five years ago that we'd be living in bethlehem with one kid and one on the way, i would not have believed you. it's fun to think of where we'll be in another five years - we really have no clue. but it's been a great five years together and i'm looking forward to seeing what is ahead.

Thursday, July 30

Our Future (Big News)

Note: This is an email we sent out earlier this week.

Greetings from the hot, hot summer of Bethlehem! It's been a busy summer, but we're enjoying it. Paidia is continuing to plan for programs in the Fall, finding land to build the high ropes course, and gearing up for our annual carnival. We're also enjoying spending time with friends - hanging out, have bbqs, and swimming. Hiba is growing every day and is so much fun right now. Matthias is also growing every day, as is Sarah's belly - that's not as much fun. But we are really looking forward to his arrival, now less than two months away!

In our last email, we asked you to pray for us as we think about our plans for the future. Thank you for your prayers. We have decided to move back to the US at the end of December. There were a lot of factors that went into making this decision - the ability to get visas, our roles at Paidia, and some family issues being the main factors. After a lot of prayer and counsel from others, we really feel a peace about this decision and believe it is the right next step for us.

For Paidia, this means that we will have to hire or find a replacement for Jason before December. Current staff will take over a number of his duties, but we are on the look out for someone with experiential learning experience who has a desire to live and work in Bethlehem for a time. Obviously this will be a huge change for the organization, but we believe that it is now in a position to continue to thrive in the face of these changes. In addition, Jason will continue to help support Paidia in a consultive and (perhaps) a fundraising/advocacy role. This is something that will be further defined later.

We will be moving to Little Rock, AR sometime at the end of December. Jason will be looking for job over the next few months and hopefully find something before we move back. So if you hear of anything - let us know. :-) Sarah is planning on staying home with our two kids and will continue her work with Paidia as the Volunteer Coordinator from the US. She will continue to develop the program and work mostly with marketing it and recruiting volunteers.

This move is exciting, sad, and nerve-wracking, all at the same time. We are excited beyond words to live near our families again. We are very sad to be moving away from our friends and loved ones here in Palestine. We are also nervous about how we will adjust to living in the US and to more structured work environments. There are some feelings of failure, and of course, wondering if we are really hearing God correctly. I (Jason) have had to stop writing this a couple of times as I feel the tears well up in the midst of these conflicting emotions, please pray for peace and comfort.

We would like to thank you so much for your consistent support, both in prayer and finances, while we have been in Bethlehem. We have been so blessed and well taken care of while we have lived here. We have been continually amazed at the way God has provided for us and trust that He will continue to do so.

While we will be done with our work in Bethlehem at the end of the year, we ask that those of you who support us financially on a regular basis consider continuing to support us financially through the end of February. While we hope that Jason will find a job before or as soon as we move back, we would like a chance to get our feet under us while we transition. Please know that we do not want to put pressure on you and will understand and be blessed by whatever decision you make. If you will commit to supporting us through the end of February, please let us know.

Please continue to pray for us as we finish up here and transition to life back in the US. Specifically, please pray for:

-Energy and enthusiasm for our work with Paida as we come to the end of our time.
-A safe and easy birth/delivery for Matthias and Sarah
-Wisdom and guidance when making decisions about jobs, housing, etc.
-Unity as we have a lot decisions ahead of us - big and small - and will have to deal with different issues that come with moving and starting over in a new place.
-Pray that we won't idealize what life in the US will be like so that we can enjoy the rest of our time here and have realistic expectations of the struggles ahead of us.
-Our friends and "family" here, that we will enjoy the last couple of months that we have with them. Pray that we will all stay in touch and not grow apart because of the distance that will be between us.
-Our mental state. There is a lot to think and feel during all these changes. Please pray that God will comfort and support us.

Thank you again for all of the love, support, and prayers that you have given us over the past three years. We have been so blessed to have such a strong team of people behind us as we have lived and worked in Palestine.

God bless,

Jason, Sarah, Hiba, and Matthias

P.S. If you have an questions or just want to talk about this stuff, please feel free to call or write and we will do as much as we can to communicate openly and honestly.

Sunday, July 26

celebrate good times, come on!

so, last week we went to visit the family of a boy who hangs out with jason a lot. his name is eyoub and he comes by our house from time to time, hangs out at the tower, etc. so we went to see his family. well, it turns out his sister was getting married this weekend, so we got invited to the wedding.

here, there is always a henna party the night before the wedding and then a party the night of the wedding as well. we were invited to both, but only ended up going to the henna. it was at their house, and as they are a pretty traditional muslim family, the men and women were separate the whole time. so, rachel and i were inside with the ladies, and jason was outside with the guys.

jason had seen eyoub earlier in the day and he said the party started at 4. so we decided to show up at 5:30. which was a good call by us, because we were still some of the only ones there. when we got there, eyoubs family (like cousins, aunts, etc.) were there and so we danced and hung out. shireen, his sister who was getting married, didn't come until about 6:30 and her fiance's family didn't come until about 7:30. my camera died right before the groom's family showed up, but here are some pictures of shireen and her family.

my favorite part of the evening was when they began playing "yeah!" by usher and made me and rachel dance by ourselves in the middle of a big circle. and not just kinda sway back and forth - they wanted to see some good american booty shakin' - which was pretty awesome with my huge stomach. and this didn't just happen once, but twice, once with just the bride's family and once when the groom's family came.

i really enjoyed going to this wedding because it made me change my thinking a bit about arrange muslim marriages, at least here. my first thought was "holy cow, she is 16. that is way too young and it's so sad that she's throwing her life away and having to get married". but as i saw her at the henna, she looked so happy. genuinely happy, excited about getting married. in this culture, there wouldn't be much for her to do if she didn't get married now - she'd help around the house and wait for a husband. and while i don't think that is right, it is what it is, so if she is really happy about marriage, even if she's young and it was arranged for her, then it's probably a better thing that i once thought it was. she was really cute when the groom came in and they danced together. she was absolutely glowing when he gave her the gold jewelry. i think they'll be pretty great together.

Saturday, July 25


sometimes i wish i was white-trash.

because if i was, i could walk around in public wearing cut-off shorts and a sports bra or bathing suit top or cut off shirt and not care. it would be much more comfortable in this heat.

however, i like to believe i'm not white-trash, so i'll continue to wear jeans and shirts that fit even though its 3000 degrees outside.

Friday, July 10

lodging, touring, AND also dental treatment

this is from a resort by our house. i was looking at the site today because we want to go swim there tomorrow. but apparently, we can do more than just swim.

While you are staying at our hotel, you can take the opportunity and do a check up on your teeth, we have fully equipped clinic that will assure you with a healthy efficient treatment. This treatment will be as well less expensive than in any other countries like the United States and Europe.

The good thing about this service is that you can save money. we can provide you with a package deal that includes lodging, touring and also dental treatment.

Please feel free to send us your panoramic x-ray and we will send you a free of charge report.

Tuesday, July 7

the swine flu

so we're mostly settled in our new house now. i haven't taken our "after" pictures yet, because there are a few finishing touches that i still need to do and there's no wal-mart to run to, so it's taking longer than i want it to. but hopefully tomorrow and thursday i'll finish things up, take pictures, and post them so you can see the wonderfulness that is our new house.

in other news, the swine flu has hit beit sahour. well, maybe. it's hard to tell what's real and what's made up, because the news really only travels through word of mouth - which is pretty unreliable - and in arabic, so word of mouth in a second language is a little sketchy. but the rumors are that a couple families in beit sahour have it, some kids have it, and some kids spread it at a summer camp. so for today, all of the summer camps in bethlehem, beit sahour, and beit jala are closed. we also just started putting hiba in daycare a couple mornings a week, but that's not happening this week either. hopefully we won't get the swine flu. i'm not too worried about it - i think stories get exaggerated a lot here. but that's the exciting news of the week.

it's been surprisingly cool the last few days. when i say cool, i mean like 85 degrees or so, but the evenings have been great. and 85 sure is better than 100, so i'll take it. it's still too hot to do anything productive during the day (at least in my opinion), but at least i don't drown in a pool of my own sweat just sitting on the couch.

that's about it right now. i'll try to think of some good stories to share and maybe one day i'll get the house done. we'll see. this afternoon i'm going to sit in front of the fan, so that probably won't bring about good stories or house pictures, but i'll feel good. :-)

Tuesday, June 23


so, it's been kind of a whirlwind since we've been back. here is what has happened in the last 12 days....

-we finished packing up our old apartment.
-jason, saleem, and rachel (along with some other volunteers) ran a one-day camp for over 100 kids from Bethlehem
-jason, saleem, and rachel worked at a summer camp in ramallah
-we moved into our new apartment
-we un-decorated our new apartment
-we have attempted to decorate our new apartment
-we (meaning mostly me and rachel) consolidated all of our landlords' things into a couple closets, including, but not limited to, clothes, blankets, pillows, decorations, marriage licenses ... you know, things like that.
-we (mostly me and hiba) unpacked our things and cleaned our new apartment
-jason and rachel spent a couple of days gathering tools and such to get ready for this week
-paidia welcomed a group of 10 volunteers who are here for about 10 days and are currently helping to finish the climbing tower
-i totally re-arranged the group's itinerary as soon as they got here since they were delayed by about 24 hours getting here and are leaving about a day earlier than we originally thought

i think that's all. i mean, apart from normal life things. i'm hoping to put up pictures of our new apartment in the next couple of days...i know you are all dying to see what it looks like. but for now, i'm going to sit on the couch, watch a movie, and probably fall asleep.

Sunday, June 14

just like normal

so today i had four things on my list to do - check the mail, get rachel a sim card, get jason's phone fixed, and get rachel a cell phone. no big deal right? i mean, that should all take an hour tops. riiiight.

so rachel, hiba, and i got in the car to run the errands. first we went to the cell phone store in bethlehem that had been recommended to us. only it was closed, because it's sunday and the owners are christian. so then we drove around looking for other cell phone stores, but apparently all the people who sell phones in bethlehem are christian. so no luck on that.

next we headed to the post office, which is in jerusalem. traffic wasn't too bad, so it only took about 30 minutes. i think i hit every red light on the way there because whoever is in charge of the stoplights don't know how to time them. the post office was actually relatively successful - in and out, we actually had mail, and rachel could just wait in the car so i didn't have to find a parking spot.

by this time, hiba was hot and cranky so we decided to find somewhere to eat. we found a little cafe in the mall outside the old city that actually had places to eat inside and enjoyed a meal of pesto ravioli, salad, and bread. hiba also had cheerios. so again, successful, except that it just added an extra hour to our trip.

so then we packed back into the car and headed out to find the orange cell phone store to get rachel a sim card and see why jason's phone isn't working. after driving around for about an hour in the hot, hot car with hiba alternating between crying and dozing off to sleep, i am convinced that this store doesn't exist. so we came home.

so after four hours we checked the mail, did not get a phone, did not get a sim card, did not get jason's phone fixed, but we did have a pretty good lunch.

Saturday, June 13

So, we just got back from a trip to the US and a lot of people made comments to us that we don't update our blog anymore. So here we go. We'll really try to write more often and keep everyone up-to-date on what is going on in our lives and stories that you may or may not find interesting. So, here is an update of things that have happened since our last post:

-We survived the winter with not too much complaining. Or at least Jason didn't complain much.
-We enjoyed a month-long visit from Marty, Jason's brother. It was fun to see him and show him our lives.
-We celebrated Hiba's first birthday. We had a fun party with lots of our friends and a few of hers.
-We got to go to the beach and the zoo with some of our Palestinian friends while they had passes into Israel for Easter.
-We survived a visit by the Pope to Bethlehem. Surviving meaning dealing with all the road closures, etc. that came with his visit. I had every intention of making it to Manger Square to see him, but it was really hot the day he came, so I didn't.
-We made it out of the country with no problems to go home at the end of May for Sarah's brother's wedding.
-We enjoyed a great, but fast, visit to the US. Two weeks is not enough time to see everyone we wanted to see. We did manage to eat a lot of great food and visit Wal-Mart several times though.
-We survived two loooong plane rides with Hiba, who is probably the world's best traveler. She is wonderful and we actually even had a little bit of fun with her on the planes.
-We picked up another housemate (Sarah's sister, Rachel) for the summer while we were in the US.
-We got into the country with practically no problems and are gearing up for the busy, busy summer.
-We found a new house and will be moving at the beginning of next week.

I think that about covers the highlights. So, we'll write more soon now that you're all caught up on our life.

Sunday, February 15

home again, home again, jiggity jig

well, we made it. it was actually not quite as bad as i thought that it would be, although at one point on the long plane ride, i'm pretty sure i told jason that it was "the worst plane ride of my entire life". looking back, that might have been a bit dramatic. 

the traveling part wasn't too bad. only one of our bags was 1 lb. over at the airport, so we just stuffed more things in our carry-on (when i say we, i mean jason - wasn't gonna carry anything extra). then all of our planes were delayed, by at least an hour. i realized that i hate the newark airport and want to spend as little time there as possible. they have no luggage carts to rent, which is a problem when you have two people trying to carry two backpacks, a baby, two computers, and a diaper bag. they also don't have any place to eat in between a food court and $30/plate steak house, like a chili's or something. this is also a problem when you're trying to kill four hours without walking around with two backpacks, a baby, two computers, and a diaper bags. one of the funniest parts was when we were waiting to get into the "secure tel aviv gate", we started the line like twenty minutes before it was even going to open and immediately everyone joined us. israelis like to be first, so it was kind of funny. then they changed the gate, so all of us in the front were stuck in the back, so the joke was on us. luckily, jason had a luggage cart (we found one stashed in a corner eventually...we still have no idea where it came from) and was nice and pushy so we got in fast. we don't just like to be first - we had a reason. we wanted to change our seats so we could get a bassinet for hiba, which we did. so on the long flight we gave hiba some magic syrup (benedryl) and she slept like a baby for six or seven hours. it was wonderful. the reason the plane ride was so terrible is because my morning sickness (or all-day sickness as i like to call it) decided to kick in, so i promptly threw up pretty much everything i tried to eat. let me just say that airplane food is just as bad coming up as it is going down.

(also, for those of you who don't know, yes all-day sickness is from pregnancy. surprise!) 

so then we got to israel, went to passport control, scoped out the lines, found a fastish moving line with a guy working (male security workers are way nicer than females) so we picked it. when we got to him, hiba started laying on her charm and he didn't even look at mine or jason's passports, he just stamped them for three months. then he opened hiba's and noticed that she was born here - and then realized, oh yeah, i'm supposed to ask them questions. so he looked at me and said "do you live here?". ummmmm,, we got pulled aside, questioned a little bit about what we do, blah blah blah, and they ended up giving hiba a 1 month visa because we're hoping to get volunteer extensions next week. so, she has to leave in a month if we don't get them, but jason and i are good for three months. if all else fails, we'll pack her bag, stick a note on her, send her to jordan and hope she makes it back to us. she's a smart kid. 

and now for my favorite story of the day....
remember ziad and his chickens and all the problems with our radiator? well, we let this guy, ron, borrow our car while we were in the US. he ended up having to get some stuff fixed (because like i've said before, it breaks every other day and the normal fix is pepper in the radiator which doesn't really fix anything...). so he took it to his mechanic and ron told us all the things he fixed and the he said: "and there was something very strange when we opened the hood. the radiator. it was there, but not in the right place. so my mechanic moved it". now, i don't know a lot about cars, but perhaps leaking and broken hoses can be attributed to the radiator not being in the right place. also, again - i'm going out on a limb here, it's my understanding that mechanics should know things about cars. like when the radiator goes. anyway, we may be firing ziad and his chickens if further problems arise.  

Wednesday, February 11

farewell to the motherland

we leave on friday. by this point, i am actually really ready to go home. it's been a great visit, but two month is a long time to live out of a suitcase and travel continuously with a baby. we've hit wal-mart and are all stocked up on food, clothes, and other random stuff which should last us until june. our bags are packed (well, almost) and all we have to do is play a few more games of settlers and get to the airport.

so here are some highlights from the last two months:
-breakfasts made for us by my dad
-breakfasts made for us by the kind folks at Cathy's Corner
-Christmas with the fams
-seeing hiba with her grandparents, aunts and uncles
-visiting tons of family members
-our first visit to real europe (istanbul doesn't count, right?)
-ice storm 2009 (ok, maybe not a highlight...)
-mexican food and laughing with christa
-a weekend in indy
-having lots of people to love hiba and play with her so that i could take naps or just have a break.
-catching up with old friends
-shufflebowl with the brocks
-sleeping in past 10 a.m. on multiple occasions
-more food than i could have imagined eating
-football watching and hot-tubbing with the lawsons
-watching lost
-a night away with jason in san antonio and going to my first nba game
-shopping at walmart, target and old navy
-hugs from people that we love

all in all, a great trip. and we'll be back here soon. in the meantime, we'll try to keep the blog updated a bit more with all of our really cool stories about our awesome lives.

Saturday, January 3

a little update

well, we are back in the US for a while. we'll be here until feb. 13. it's been good to be here - we have gotten a ton of rest, had the opportunity to see some of our best friends, spend a lot of time with our families, eaten lots of good food. i (sarah) am not so ready to go back to palestine, but i guess i still have a little over a month to get there.

we did not do a good job about letting people know ahead of time when we would be here, so it's been more about visiting family. it's been so fun to see hiba play with her grandparents, aunts and uncles. i really hope that we will live close to them some day so she can do that more often.

we're traveling a lot while we're here. in 8 weeks, we will hit siloam, little rock, dallas, austin, indianapolis, and grand rapids. hiba is such a trooper, being drug around everywherre and meeting tons of new people. we hope that will continue. it's good to see people and catch up with friends. it's tireing, but completely worth it.

the situation in gaza has been on our mind a lot. we don't know anyone who lives there, but we have friends who have family there. it has been hard to be here with everything going on there. there isn't much else we could do if we were in bethlehem anyway. please pray that the killing will stop. pray for peace.