Sunday, December 19

my husband the rock star

Appreciate: What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

this one is easy. jason.

my husband is wonderful. i have always known this - i mean, i wouldn'tve married him otherwise - but this year, i have really learned to appreciate how awesome he is.

this has, by far, been the hardest year of our marriage. moving across the world, living with family, having kids, buying a house and getting a real job will do that. i really liked the life we had in palestine - the shorter work week, jason's flexibility with his schedule, our proximity to where he worked, the amount of outside activities he was involved in. all of that changed when we lived in the us. all of a sudden, his work day was 9 hours, plus the drive. he had to go to work, even if i was sick or hiba was cranky or i was tired or whatever. he started playing rugby, which took way more time and commitment than i was expecting. we moved into a house that we own, which is a lot more work than people tell you. and all of this was done after moving to a brand new place halfway across the world from the life we were used to. it was hard to adjust to all of this. the first few months were rough. not a lot of good communication, a lot of frustration.

but then, once we started to adjust and actually talk about stuff, life has gotten a lot better. jason works really hard to make sure i am happy and well taken care of. he works hard to make sure we're provided for. he plays rugby so that he doesn't go crazy and has found a good balance of spending time doing that and spending time with our family. he makes sure that i have time to hang out with my friends when i need it. when he is home, he plays with our kids, helps with bedtime, does the dishes (well, sometimes), watches my favorite tv shows with me. he encourages me to be involved in things i want to be involved in and makes a real effort to work out the details of that.

when we lived in palestine, jason did all of the above as well. but we did have a lot more time, one kid, and just a different lifestyle. so i just figured that it was normal for husbands to be this involved in their kids' lives, this willing to help out in ways besides going to work and making money. but what i've found is that it is not necessarily the norm. and once i realized that, it helped me to appreciate all of the work and energy jason puts into being a good husband and father way more than i had in the past.

i've tried recently to really tell him how much i appreciate it. if i have a moms night out, i tell him thank you even though i feel it is something i deserve. if he does the dishes after dinner, i tell him thanks even though it is one of his jobs. if he spends sunday afternoon playing with hiba and matthias so i can sit on the couch and watch football, i tell him how much i appreciate it even though i think obviously he should play with them and give me a break. i've learned to let him know how much i love him and how thankful i am for all he does, even if it's things i think are normal. because maybe they are normal, maybe they're not, but either way they are wonderful and i need to show my appreciation for what he does.

because he is great. and he should know that.

Saturday, December 18

matthias and the next step

i have been sick for the last week. which would normally be a great time to curl up in bed with a cup of tea, a heavy dose of medicine, and reverb away. however, in reality i was stuck at home with hiba and matthias, trying to not throw them out the window because my meds were not working no matter how much or what i took. so, no blogging got done. but now i'm better and want to start reverbing again. so here we go.

This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?
the thing that immediately came to mind was matthias' birth. i know it was in 2009, but i feel like anything from his birth forward was this year, because it all runs together in my mind. he was born in 1 1/2 hours. for those of you who don't know anything about the birthing experience, that was fast. i think most people would say a 4 or 5 hour labor would be a short labor. and as great as it was that it happened quickly and wasn't drawn out, it was awful. it was so painful, because it was all natural. not so much by choice, but because i didn't have time to get any pain meds. when it was happening, it did not seem like i was there, but my body just took over and got the job done.

and then all of a sudden, there was a little baby laying on me. he had big eyes and looked just like his sister. at that moment, just for a brief second, all the pain seemed to wash away and i was just there, holding jason's hand and holding my son. it only lasted a moment, but it was a wonderful moment.

Action: When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?

i don't know.

this is mostly because i don't know what my aspirations are. i mean, i know i want to be a good wife, a good mom, a good friend, yada yada yada. but i have been thinking a lot lately about what else i want to be, what else i want to do.

jason is interested in homeschooling our children. i am very open to the idea of them being homeschooled, but i have zero interest in doing the homeschooling. right now, i am counting down the days until i do not have to be at home all day with my kids. i mean, i love them and all, but....yeah. anyway, jason has said that he will homeschool them, which is great, but it means that i would have to get a job that could support our family. and as much as i loved jbu, a b.s. in family and human services doesn't pay so much.

so, i have been thinking recently about going back to school. the problem is one, i don't know exactly what i want to go back for and two, i hate school. so problem one - i'm thinking either a masters in social work (which wouldn't really solve the whole get-a-job-that-supports-my-family problem), rehabilitation counseling (which is only offered by online classes at ualr and i'm not the most self-motivated student), or occupational therapy (which is at uca, a thirty minute drive from here, and i would need to take a bunch of science classes before i could start the program). problem two - i think i would enjoy school, or at least tolerate it, if i wasn't taking gen ed classes. i worked way harder in classes for my major when i was at jbu than i did in gen ed, so i've pretty much convinced myself it wouldn't be too bad.

so now to answer the prompt - making these ideas happen. well, i need to get on that. first, i need to decide if i really want to put the work, energy, time, and money into going back to school. i think i do. i think jason is supportive of this. but we need to decide for sure. second, i need to decide what i want to do. i need to start taking the classes i need to get into these programs. i can do a lot of them online or over the summer, so i have this semester to kind of figure it out. i need to take the g.e.d., which based on practice questions won't be that hard, but i just need to do it. the plan is pretty simple - mostly i need to just start moving.

so my next step? spend christmas break really researching these different programs, talking through the ideas with jason, praying about if and what degree i should go after. and then talk to the schools as soon as the semester starts so i can actually start moving towards the goal of going back to school.

Tuesday, December 14

wisdom and letting go

ok, so here are a few reverb10 prompts. maybe one day i'll catch up....

Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?
i think the wisest decision i made was that i can't do everything. so i need to pick what i love, and stick with that. at the beginning of this semester, i was involved in two moms groups, an exercise class, teen mops, a bible study, the leadership for mops and teen mops, and a kid-swap day. and that doesn't even begin to include grocery shopping, laundry, reading books to my kids, building with legos, spending time with jason, going to rugby games. it was fun for a while, but it got to be too much. i was so tired all the time and not enjoying any of it.

so i've cut a lot out. i'm still in the process of cutting things out, deciding what is really important, what i really want to be involved in, and how involved i want to be. but it's getting much better and we're not just go-g0-going allllllll the time.

11 Things: What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?
1. so much to do. this will be done by cutting back the activities that i'm actively a part of, as talked about above.
2. baby weight. matthias is 15 months old - i can't really use "i just had a baby" as an excuse anymore. healthy eating and and healthy lifestyle will help this. i think it'll make me happier and also, i'll have a lot more pants i can wear.
3. flip-flops. i have way too many. and i don't even really wear them, they just take up space in my closet and make me feel good about having stuff. i think i'll give them away. i don't know that it will change my life, but it will make me a little less materialistic.
4. fast food. well, ok - i'm not going to eliminate this completely because i love me some chickfila, but i could definitely cut down on my trips there. and to sonic. i go mostly when i am feeling lazy and don't want to fix lunch for my kids, so planning ahead will help. which brings me to number 5....
5. laziness. i know that i work hard. i know that staying at home with two kids is hard work. but i think that i use that as an excuse a lot. it keeps me from doing housework, playing with them, doing fun things with jason, being involved in things outside of the house. and really, it come down to that i am choosing to be lazy. i know when i suck it up and work harder at life, i'm a happier person.
6. clothes. i have a closet full of clothes i never wear. they are just taking up space and i'm sure someone else could actually use them.
7. my to-do list for the house. eliminating this would mean that it was actually done and we would be living in a house that i love. that would be nice.
8. yelling. i yell at my kids way too much. i'm trying to literally take a breath before answering them sometimes or counting to five in my head. i know those are things you tell little kids to do - you think i would've learned this by now.
9. selfishness.
10. discontentment.
11. judging. these last three are traits that i see way too much in myself. it would be great to eliminate them, although i'm not sure that's a realistic goal. but i will strive to follow Jesus more each day, which will lead to selflessness, contenetment, and unconditional love - as much as that is possible on this side of heaven.

so pretty much all of these things will just make my life fuller. they are excess, things i don't need - be it physical, emotional, spiritual - and my life will be better without them. they will take a conscious effort each day, but eliminating them is not out of my reach.

Thursday, December 9

celebrate good times, come on!

Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

when i first read this, the first thing that came to mind was our going away party when we left palestine. it rocked my socks off. but, it was actually in 2009 (we've been gone a whole lot longer than i thought....) so it can't count.

so instead, i'm stealing mel's answer - hendy's wedding. it was so fun. we got to see friends from college that we hadn't seen since we left for palestine. we were only up in siloam for a weekend, but we hung out with people every night. we got to share stories, catch up on life, rekindle friendships, laugh at memories, and just hang out like old friends.

the wedding was beautiful and the the reception was great. it was at this country house with a huge field that hiba absolutely loved running in. the wedding was also fun for us because we got to really introduce hiba to a lot of our friends. some had met her before, when she was a baby, but since she got to come to the reception with us, people go to see the wonderfulness of her in action.

so the weekend was great. we always have a great time with old friends, and this was no exception.

new beginnings

a little more catching up...this one is from dec 7.

Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

the first place that comes to mind is my mops group. mops stands for mothers of preschoolers and is a wonderful, wonderful thing. i found a group that meets here in little rock and started going in february. i found it online and went with a friend who i had met at the library that week before. other than that, i didn't know anyone so i was a little nervous. but i was soooooooo desperate to hang out with other moms and get a break from my kids and make friends that i went anyway.

it was a lifesaver. seriously. the other moms were so incredibly welcoming, the leaders were so loving and kind. these women immediately started pouring into my life. they gave me furniture and kids clothes. they brought me meals when we moved. they listened to my stories. they loved on my kids. they made me feel like a part of their lives. they were so welcoming and it really changed my outlook on life.

so, over the year i've continued to connect with them. we meet once a week and my closest mom friends are a part of this group. hiba's close friends are a part of this group and it has been such a huge blessing for me. i'm so thankful that my mom suggested finding a mops group and i'm so thankful that i took the step to try it out.

there are two communities that i would like to connect with more deeply in 2011. the first is my mops group. i want to continue to get to know these women and share life with them. i do see some of them outside of mops, but i'd like to find more opportunities to spend time together. i know i will have to be more intentional about finding time to spend with them and i really want to do that.

the second community is our church. we've started going to this really small, but really awesome church, called r street community church. the people we have met there are awesome. they were (and still are) so welcoming to our family and have already made us feel like we are a part of their community, even though we don't go all the time. a lot of the people we've met there are really interested in social justice issues and have a heart for the disenfranchised of this area. it's very refreshing to find a community of believers who put their energy, not just their money, where their mouth is. i really want to connect more with them in 2011 - go to church more regularly, find ways to hang out outside of church, and serve our community with them. i know this will have to be very intentional and take a fair amount of energy, but it's a community that i think will be great for me and jason to be a part of, as well as hiba and matthias. i can see jesus in their lives and want our family to be a bigger part of that.

Wednesday, December 8

letting go...

a little reverb catch-up.....

What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

i almost laughed out loud when i read this prompt. not because it's funny or anything, but because i feel like i've blogged a lot about this and wanted to sort of get away from this subject, hence the reason i started the reverb project.

so what did i let go of? the years in palestine. i haven't completely let go of them, but i think i'm finally at a place where i can say that i am moving on. i've taken off the rose-colored glasses, i'm not wishing every day that we lived in palestine, i'm finally making friends, planting my flag here and establishing a real life instead of wishing for what i had.

it's taken quite a while. and i'm not there yet. i miss my friends, i miss the simplicity of life, i miss jason's work hours, i miss friday lunches, i miss our monday night kenistish, but i'm letting go and moving on. i've stopped looking for the exact replica of all of these things and decided to be happy and invest in what i am finding here.

and what i'm finding, once i've been willing to let go, is a church that we love, a great group of moms that i get to be a part of, happy hours with friends, opportunities to volunteer in the community, and a place that i can call home and be happy with.

it's funny that when you hold on to something, it keeps you from really enjoying anything. because if you are trying to hold on, it probably means it is past and you can't really enjoy it. but it keeps you from finding new things, from enjoying the moment.

as my wise little brother once said, "you just can't hold on to anything". he was talking about when you stretch your quad, but little did he know how profound he was being. :-)

beautifully different

Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up.

a lot of times i think that i'm pretty different than a lot of people around me. it's hard to put a finger on exactly what it is or describe it without sounding smug. i think it boils down to having a wide worldview, having compassion and desire - and the ability - to see the world through the eyes of others, especially through the eyes of hurting people.

some of this comes from living in a different country for a significant amount of time. although it is possible to live somewhere foreign and not become good at having your worldview widened, it is difficult. you just learn to see things differently. you learn to adjust to new situations, learn new cultures, see all sides to the story, and most of all you learn to appreciate differences. you learn that your way might be good for you, but maybe it's not the best way. you learn to appreciate and love new ideas, different ideas than you have always known.

and for me specifically, living in palestine helped me to see through the eyes of those who are hurting. every day, i had to deal with living in an occupied territory. every day i saw the effects of that occupation - on kids, on adults, on daily life, on political views, on peoples' view of God. and while i know i never had to deal with it even to a fraction of the extent that palestinians deal with it, living in palestine gave me new eyes.

so how does that all translate to now? i think it gives me empathy for those who hurt. i have a desire to help and love those who others might not want to. i have a need to help people find their voice. i have the ability to see beyond the daily grind and think about the big picture of life and how and where i fit into that. i hope that others can see this about me and that it brings a little bit of joy and light into their world.

Monday, December 6

gingerbread houses and home decor

Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

ok, so i know that i am a few days behind. and plan on going back and writing about the last few prompts. but for now, i'm just going to keep going because if i wait too long to just start back up, i never will and then it will be january and then i'll be reverbing for next year. soooo.

the last thing i made was a gingerbread house. i made it this morning, actually. hiba and matthias helped me. or not so much. i was smart enough to buy a kit, so the house was actually pre-made, so really we just put icing and candy on it. but at this point in life, that we quite enough of a project.

it was day 5 (again, i know i'm behind....) of our advent calendar. i made an advent calendar with decorated envelopes and then each day, we read some bible verses and do a fun activity. most of the activities have to do with christmas, so have to do with winter, and others are things we are already doing that day. most days have gone well and we haven't had any complete disasters yet. we're up at grammy and oscar's house this weekend, so i'm pretty sure that the gingerbread house would have been a disaster if i had been doing it by myself.

i want to make a lot of things. i am trying to decorate our house and i am trying to do a lot of projects myself to save money. the only problem with this idea is that i'm not super crafty or the decorator type and i have two little kids who are always more than willing to help. the next things on my list is to paint and fix up the dresser, night stand, and desk in our bedroom. it's definitely a project that i need to clear time for, but it has to be time when my kids are sleeping and i have energy, so i'm not quite sure when that will be. for a couple of our house projects, grammy and/or rachel have come down to help, which made it possible to actually get things done. so i'm thinking sometime when rachel is on christmas break, i'll host another camp 39 and get some projects done.

Thursday, December 2


What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?

this is a hard one. because really what i do is life. i do dishes, i do laundry, i change diapers, i get my kids dressed, i watch them play, i run errands, i go to moms' groups, i make dinner, i clean up, etc, etc, etc.

and all of these things that i do is why i write and usually what i write about. but they also all keep me from writing. some days i feel like all i've done is little task after little task, and really, who wants to read about that? so i don't write. some days i witness a million funny things that my kids do and hear tons of funny things that hiba says, but by the time i can sit down, my kids are the last thing i want to think about. some days i have deep thoughts that have nothing to do with my kids, but by the time i they're in bed and i have time to write, i've either forgotten or am too exhausted to write about anything meaningful.

obviously, i can't eliminate my daily life. i mean, i could re-arrange it so that i have more time for myself and i could use the kids' nap time and my evening time more for writing and less for checking my facebook or watching tv or napping. but most days i don't want to. i like being able to use that time to not think, to relax, and be entertained. but i also like writing, i like reflecting, i like having memories down on paper.

so i think the best i can do is keep trying. maybe i can make little notes to myself throughout the day so i don't forget what i want to write about. this project will obviously help, as i have to be intentional about finding time to write each day. maybe that will continue come january. i hope so.

Wednesday, December 1

reverb '10

so i have been wanting to write about things besides my crazy transition to the US and my kids. but it seems like i only think of other topics when i'm away from the computer and then by the time i sit down to write, the topics are gone because my kids ate my brain cells during pregnancy. so, today i signed up for reverb '10, which is a project of reflection over the last year. there is a prompt each day which will give me something to write about and to look back over the last year. so here goes...

one word. encapsulate the year 2010 in one word.


this has been a year of transitions. physical transitions, emotional transitions, mental transitions. we started the year staying with jason's mom for a few weeks. that transitioned into staying with her for a few months. that transitioned into moving into our own house, one that we own and will live in permanently, something we've never had before.

i started the year with very few friends, in a new place, probably on the brink of a mental breakdown, emotionally exhausted all the time. that transitioned into finding a mops group, meeting other moms, joining a bible study, looking for a church. that transitioned into new friendships, emotional stability, settling down here.

i started the year not wanting to be a stay-at-home mom. i wanted to be more important and do something with measurable results that other people could see. that transitioned into the realization that i can't afford to work part-time in this country, which transitioned into the realization that i would be staying at home full time. this transitioned into filling my days with so many outings, groups, and activities so i wouldn't be bored, which transitioned into me finding my niche, realizing that God has called me to do this right now and accepting that, which transitioned into some great opportunities to volunteer while i stay at home.

now, imagine it's one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?


i feel like i spent this year transitioning (well, maybe because i did) and avoiding settling here. i spent the first nine months or so making plans for our next phase in life and denying the fact that we're here to stay, at least for now. i want this next year to be a year of planting roots, deepening friendships, settling down, and enjoying stability instead of wishing i was doing something else. we are here. we will be here for a while. so i want to settle her as long as i'm here.

Wednesday, November 24

who is the boss?

the other day we were going to jason's parent's house for dinner. because of the time change, it was already dark when we left our house. this really stressed hiba out. because most of the time, when it is dark, it means it is bed time for her. so the whole way, she kept saying "we can't go to gramma and papa's because it is dark!".

finally jason said to her, "hiba. chill out. it is ok that we are going to gramma and papa's house even though it is dark. are you the boss? no. i am saying it is ok. and who is the boss?"

hiba relied, "daddy is the boss!"

and then after a moment of silence, she added, "haha! i just called mommy daddy!".

Monday, November 22

on being thankful

a lot of my friends are updating their facebook statuses or blogs every day with things they are thankful for. i don't really like joining in facebook fads, you know like the 25 things list or putting where i like it as my status. instead of jumping right in, i wait awhile and then reluctently join in with everyone else in a i-don't-really-want-to-do-this-but-i-will-since-i-know-you-all-are-dying-to-know-what-i-think sort of way. so, in that vein of thought, here are some things that i'm thankful for at the moment.

i'm thankful for my kids. i am also thankful that they are growing up. i am also thankful for older moms that tell me that i can be thankful that they are growing up, instead of telling me that i should cherish every moment with them while they're little because this is the best time. because if this is the best time....well, shoot. i love my kids. i really am glad that i get to stay home with them. but they are exhausting. physically, emotionally, mentally exhausting. but they are growing up. and it is so fun to watch. like today, they just played outside while i did things around the house. i left the door open and checked on them about every two minutes, but they can play outside by themselves. both of them! which means i can actually clean and organize because they are not right by my side waiting to instantly destroy whatever progress i make. they actually play together some now, which is so cute. matthias mimics hiba's every move and she loves to lead him around, show him things, read to him, help him play. it's so sweet. and i am so glad we're past the baby stage and will be glad when we're past the toddler stage. but they are fun. i love them.

i'm thankful for my husband. he's great. i've realized this a lot lately. i'm thankful that God put us together and that we're a good match.

i'm thankful for friends. we've made some pretty great friends in little rock and it's neat to see how that's developed this year. we're finally making some friends together, instead of me having my mom friends and jason having his rugby friends. we've gotten to hang out with friends together a lot lately, which has been great. we've also gotten to see some old friends, which is always fun.

i'm thankful for home decor. kinda shallow, i know. but lately i've had time and energy to get some painting (thanks mom!) and decorating done and our house is actually looking more like a grown-up house and less like a college dorm room. it's less stressful to sit in my living room because my list of things to put on the wall or furniture to paint or fix is slowly getting smaller and i actually like the way my house is looking.

i'm thankful for this weird crazy nice weather. it's like 70 degrees outside right now. which means my kids can play outside, i can have the windows open, our gas and electric bills are crazy low. all around a good thing. unless this is all due to global warming, and then it's a bit on the disastrous side, but right now i love it.

i'm thankful for new boots. i finally gave into this skinny jean and boots look that seems to be all the rage. sometimes i feel like i look like my little sister (which is ok, since she's super cute, but i'm a little older than her and a mom, so i don't feel like i should look like i'm 19), but i have to say i like the look. plus the boots keep me warmer (you know, in the cold 50 degree weather we've had the last few nights....) and they're almost as comfy as flip-flops.

Tuesday, November 16

then and now

things i did today:
*woke up in my house as my heater was going
*ate cold cereal for breakfast
*went to a brunch for a moms group i am in
*experienced fall weather
*went to one grocery store to buy a turkey, asian food, potato chips, and bananas
*had friends over for dinner
*went to bed with the assurance that tomorrow i'll live in the same place that i did today

things i didn't do today:
*eat fresh made pita and hummus for breakfast
*pack up the last of my stuff that i just have to have, while trying to give away anything i can't fit in my suitcases
*decide that i do in fact want more stuff than will just fit in seven suitcases and throw together an unknown number of boxes to be shipped to us (although i'm fairly certain the number of boxes packed is at least one more than the number we got....)
*say goodbye to the life i'd known for three years
*hug and wave goodbye to some of the best friends i could ever ask for
*take one last look at the place my kids were born
*miraculously fit seven suitcases, a double stroller, two car seats, a diaper bag, a huge purse, two kids and three adults into one vehicle to drive to the border
*made it through israeli customs without having to take my clothes off
*leave palestine

Friday, November 5

and then we realized...

it was a cold night. one of the coldest so far that year. and of course, our heaters didn't work. the landlord promised he would fix them soon. i said we should call up saleem asap to see if we could borrow the propane heater that he had since he never used it, it was actually ours at one point, and the landlord never fixed anything nearly as quickly as he said he would. but instead, i settled for my fuzzy blanket that jason had gotten me for christmas our year at the house of hope. he knew how much i loved fuzzy blankets, and since he got me one it meant i didn't have to somehow have all of my fuzzy blankets shipped over from the US - which was what my plan was.

so anyway, it was cold. i snuggled up in my brown fuzzy blanket on our uncomfortable couch, probably watching some re-run of boston legal, listening to hiba not sleep in her room and praying that matthias would actually stay asleep in his. it started like most other november nights that we'd had in palestine.

i don't remember who brought it up, but somehow jason and i got to talking about our rejection letter. the one from the ominous, all-powerful committee at the ministry of interior that kindly informed us that our request for visas was denied and we had two weeks to leave. by now we were down to 11 days. our plan was to ignore it. we had tickets bought for the end of december, weren't planning on coming back anytime soon, so who cares what the committee said. we'd stay. they might fine us, they might black-list us, but whatever. who cares, right?

but then we started talking. and thinking. and realizing. we realized that our plan was kinda dumb. jason is more qualified to work in palestine than anywhere else in the world. our lives, our kids lives, some of our best friends were formed there. and five years (our potential black-list time) is a long time. heck, three years is a long time. that's how long we'd been there. we realized that putting ourselves in the position of not being able to return was not really an option.

so we started to talk. and pray. and think. and pray some more. and in a couple hours our normal november night had been turned upside down. we were leaving in 11 days. we had plane tickets to change, baby furniture to sell, clothes to pack, books to ship, a car to sell (or push off a cliff....). but most of all, we had a life to wrap-up, a chapter to close. and we had 11 days.

but on the good side, we could tell our landlord he didn't have to fix our heaters and soon i'd be back to all the fuzzy blankets i could ever want. a lot sooner that i wanted.

Wednesday, October 27

"i'm a woman!"

a couple days ago, we reached a big milestone with hiba. she is officially out of gummy bears. this means that when she goes pee-pee in the potty, she doesn't get a reward. she just has to do it now, like mommy and daddy. she was pretty excited about this.

today on our way to mops, we stopped to get gas. i was talking to hiba about something completely unrelated to going to the bathroom, which she informed me that she had underwear on. i told her that i know. she then told me that she doesn't get a gummy bear anymore, she just goes to the potty, like mommy and daddy. to this i replied something to the effect of "yes, that's so great, hiba! that's because you are such a big girl!".

to which she replied, "no, i'm not a big girl. i am all grown up now. i'm a woman!"

Monday, October 25

Restless Life Syndrome

when i think of me and jason, i think of him as being the spontaneous, adventurous, always-wanting-to-do-something-new half of us. and i am the routine lover, let's-settle-down-and-live-the-american-dream half of us. but lately, i feel as though we've flipped.

we have to own our house for three years or pay the government back $8000. when we bought the house, i was planning on selling it on march 5, 2013 and moving on to the next part of our life. i pictured this being somewhere cool and exciting, maybe back in the middle east, maybe in central or south america, or maybe in some cool city in the US. we would get jobs (or at least one of us would) doing some sort of good work for some awesome-sounding organization and our lives would be cool again. i assumed that this is what jason was planning on too.

but a while ago, he told me he doesn't really want to move in three years. he actually likes little rock, and while he doesn't necessarily want to live here for the rest of our lives, he could live here for quite a while.

so that makes me the restless one. i realized this a few days ago and have been embracing it full on. my new plan is to live in this house for three years to the day and then either rent it out or sell. we will then embark on a year-long journey around the world, visiting friends that we know to see what they are doing. we'll couch-surf and bum rides off of people, live on as little as possible. during that year, we'll find something awesome to do, probably having to do with community development type stuff in a developing country, get a job and do that for a few years. when we get bored or our contract is up, then we'll do the round-the-world thing again. sounds fun, huh? oh, and this is with our kids, who will be 5 and 3 1/2 at the start of all of this.

i realize that this is not a very realistic plan. it's just not very responsible. and while i don't think that everything we do in life has to be responsible, i think that some sort of responsibility comes with being parents and at some point you have to grow up and settle down. to some extent. (see how restless i am? i can't even say that i think i need to settle down without some sort of qualification tacked on the end...)

so why do i have restless life syndrome? i think it has to do with a fear of settling down and becoming connected with the community in which i live. when i finally gave into that in palestine, we had to leave. it took me two years to admit that we actually lived there and were there indefinitely. so by the time i really started investing in relationships, our house, our community we were only there long enough for me to finally enjoy it, finally have some really great friends, finally have it feel like home before we had to leave. and i don't really want to go through that again.

i'm starting to make some good friends - friends that i can have real conversations with about real life. we have found a church that we are excited about and want to get involved in. our house isn't completely decorated, but i've put enough work into it that i don't gag every time i walk in the door. we're making friends with our neighbors and getting involved in different organizations. but i still have this fear of putting any more effort into these things. because the reality is, jason and i have no clue what we want to be when we grow up. and we have no clue when we will grow up. so any day now, we could decide to go a different direction, move somewhere else, start a new adventure. or we could decide to stay here, invest in this community, make it our home. and since i don't know, it's hard to "be here". i mean, it takes a lot of effort to make friends, to develop a community around you, to make you live your home. and frankly, i don't want to put all that much energy into it if we're gonna just pack up and leave.

so it's easier to just plan on leaving than to not know. if we plan on leaving, than we can have fun while we're here, have some cook-outs and game nights, enjoy the time that we're here, but not really invest anything. that way it's easy to leave. it's fun to leave and exciting. but if we don't know, if we don't have our crazy plan ahead of us, then we have to live here, in the moment, making the best of what we have and really investing time and energy into making it our home. we have to make real friends and invest in people's lives and let them into ours. and all of that is wonderful, but it comes with the risk of being swept away again, being hurt, having to start over with so many memories of how great that last place was.

but here we are. i mean, we bought a house after all, so we're here for awhile at least. i'm learning to make the most of it. i'm learning that it really is better to be here and to have it be hard later than to just drift through on my own. but i'm still dreaming of what our next adventure might be.

Sunday, October 24

there was the time...

i feel like i binge blog. right now, i have a lot to write about, but am having trouble putting it down on paper. or on the computer screen, i guess.

but the main thing tonight is i miss palestine. more specifically, i miss our friends. i miss the community we had there. it really was something else.

sure, there were the times when there were parties on our patio till 3 a.m. the summer after hiba was born and all i wanted to do was sleep instead of listen to people laughing and talking right outside my window. and there were the times when everyone would come over till the wee hours of the morning and make my kitchen dirty and leave their dishes for me to wash and then never take them back to their own house. or the times when andrew would steal my coffee mugs.

but there were also the times when we would play catan for hours on end. or the times we would watch movies with funny subtitles and bad quality. or the times when we'd have sushi parties or saleem would make hotwings. and the times when we would bbq on the deck and sit around and eat and drink for hours, talking about everything and nothing.

there was the time when rachel dropped everything she was doing to distract me from the fact that my husband was detained by the israeli army. she made some phone calls with me and then came over to my house and we taught hiba how to clap.

there was the christmas when we were all so homesick that we had a million different parties and dinners and breakfasts and gift exchanges and acted as fill-in families for each other.

there was hiba's first birthday party, which was filled with some of her best friends in the world - all people who were at least twenty years older than her, but loved her like family.

there was the time when hiba was born and munther snuck food into the hospital for me, tons of people brought us dinner and showered us with gifts.

there was the time when matthias was born and rachel and audra took care of hiba, and again friends brought us food and helped us out.

tonight, jason had to take matthias to the hospital. turns out he has croup. he's fine now - that's not the point of this post. the point is that it was 11 at night and i didn't know who to call. we do have friends here that i would call and take hiba to if i really needed to. but we don't have the sense of community that we had in palestine, where if i called one of our friends, they would drop what they were doing and come to our house, no matter what time. and we all lived so close that it would be a matter of minutes.

i know we have good friends here and i know that friendships take time. i'm thankful for the friends we have.

but tonight, i miss palestine. i miss the culture of closeness that was forced on us, that we had to adapt to, that we were made to live with whether we liked it or not. and by the end, i liked it. and i miss it.

Tuesday, September 21

on miscommunications

i have a friend who recently said she likes to start blog posts about single subjects with "on xyz". i like it too. it makes me feel sophisticated and like i'm writing something deep and important.

so anyway, i think that in general jason and i have pretty good communication skills. we tend to be good listeners and are able to communicate our points to each other. but every once in a while, there's a little glitch.

like sunday, for example. we are in the middle of potty training hiba. on sunday, she wanted to wear underwear to church instead of her pull-up. so, we let her. jason was working in the nursery anyway, so we figured it'd be a good outing for her to be out of her pull-up. she did great - even used the bathroom there once, which is a huge deal because she's usually scared of public bathrooms - but at the end, right before we were about to leave, she peed in her pants. so, jason went to change her. i hadn't packed any extra underwear, because i figured that if she had an accident at church, she should just wear a pull-up for the rest of the time. jason thought that might be confusing for her. he told me this. i didn't really think much of his comment.

so fast forward to nap time. jason was going to put hiba down for a nap and asked me if she was all ready, if she had a pull-up on. i said, yeah, she's ready. go ahead and put her down. so he did.

a few minutes later, we heard hiba calling. we ignored her. then she said "i got poopoo on my bed". bleh. so jason got up to go change her, thinking he would find a little poop on her sheets.

instead, he found hiba standing in her bed with a pile of poop next to her, which had fallen out of her shorts. because in fact, she did not have a pull-up on.

apparently, when jason told me that it would be confusing for her to wear underwear sometimes and a pull-up sometimes, he meant he didn't put a pull-up on her. and when he asked if she was ready for her nap, he meant did i put a pull-up on her since we've been home. he figured that was obvious because if he was asking, it meant she hadn't had a pull-up on earlier. i totally missed all of that.

so we had a good laugh, cleaned hiba up, changed the sheets and put her back to bed. it's good to be reminded that we can't read each other's minds, even when we have the best of intentions.

Friday, September 17

The Beginning of the End

matthias's birthday marks for me the beginning of the end of our time in palestine. we didn't really know it at the time, but his birth definitely was the beginning of two months of craziness. this is what happened between his birthday and november 16:

-matthias was born. spent two nights in the hospital and then went home. we had a wonderful friend who came for like two weeks to help out with hiba. she ended up cleaning our house, doing dishes and laundry. it was great, especially since i didn't realize how much i needed that rest.
-paidia's annual carnival. three nights. i was the volunteer coordinator and the carnival was run by volunteers. organizing, transporting, helping 30+ international and local volunteers each night. oh yeah, and matthias was less than a week old.
-plans were made and preparations were made to build the high ropes course. this means jason was working quite a bit. in addition to matthias being a few weeks old, hiba was around too. i'm so thankful for her daycare and the ladies there and so glad she liked it.
-ben, the ropes course guy, came to help build it. he stayed with us for a week and a half. matthias was a few weeks old at this point.
-my mom came to visit. yay! it was wonderful.
-ben left, jason continued to work on the leadership center and ropes course.
-we had a visa appointment. they sent our applications to "the committee". we were pretty much convinced we would get the visas and if we didn't, we'd stay anyway. this was the end of october. they said they'd let us know within two weeks.
-november 2 - got a call from the wonderful ministry of the interior. our applications were back and we could come get the results. they couldn't tell us over the phone. i already had plans all day, so i thought i'd just go the next day since we were gonna stay either way.
-november 3 - we got the news that our visas were denied and we had until november 16 to leave. sure runied that day. we were still planning on staying.
-november 5 - we decided to leave. it was probably the hardest decision of our life. also, since we waited a few days to decide, it meant we had 11 days to pack up, sell stuff, change plane tickets, figure out what we were doing when we got back to the US....all that fun stuff. oh yeah, matthias is just over a month old.

the next 11 days were crazy. looking back, they were actually pretty fun. we both worked a lot, jason with paidia and me with getting ready to go. we hung out with friends every night till the wee hours of the morning. we played tons of games of catan with rachel, saleem, and munther. we had bbqs with anyone who wanted to come over. i had my last friday lunch with the girls. jason played his last day of friday basketball. we had three going away parties (we're pretty awesome like that). we really savored every moment that we had.

but, because it was so crazy, i didn't really have time to process what was going on. or energy to, for that matter. there were so many big things that happened in the next two months that it's easy to think back and know exactly what i was doing each day a year ago. so this year, it's nice to be in a place to look back and remember, to process leaving, to grieve what i lost, to see what i gained, and love what we did.

i think it will be a long two months. maybe harder than last year. because this time around i know the end. ignorance is bliss. and those two months were crazy bliss. i know i probably look back through rose-colored glasses - i mean, it was crazy. and we were all tired and worn out. it was hard and by the end, i was glad to be done. but it was exciting stuff that we were doing. we were around wonderful people that we loved and who loved us. and those last 11 days sure were fun. it wasn't perfect and i sure wouldn't want to actually do it over again. but for now, i'll savor the memories as i think back to the beginning of the end.

Wednesday, September 15

happy birthday, zuus!

one year ago today started out like any other day. i walked hiba to day care, picked sara up to show her around bethlehem, went to a staff meeting, did a little work, went back home, made sure there were freezer meals ready - you know, every day stuff.

then i went to my dr.'s appointment, where he checked out matthias, who was looking good. plenty big, great heart beat, some small contractions here or there. so i told him i wanted to go ahead and have them break my water to put me into labor. he tried to talk me in to coming back the next morning, since it was already like 5 p.m. but i was pretty set on not being pregnant any more and hiba was at rachel's for the night, so he did not change my mind. plus, the paida carnival was like five days away and since i was the volunteer coordinator for it, the sooner i had the baby, the better.

so, i checked into the hospital, ate dinner, and headed up to the labor and delivery room. i got all settled in, they broke my water and said they'd come
back and check my progress in two hours to see if i needed any drugs or anything. that was at 6:30 p.m.

8 p.m. on the dot, matthias edward pollack made his way into the world. one and half hours of the worst pain of my entire life (admitedly, i haven't had a very painful life or anything, but GEEZ it was intense...), our little boy joined us.

now he's one. he's walking, starting to talk, laughing, joking, blowing kisses, throwing fits. how time flies. happy birthday, zuzu!

Thursday, August 26

on a lighter note...

hiba is funny. hilarious, actually. sometimes she knows it, sometimes she doesn't. here are some of her latest quotes...

hiba: mommy, look, there is a c, p, and m.
me: oh yeah?
hiba: yes. say i'm so smart, mommy.
me: hiba, you are such a smart girl.
hiba: no, just say i'm so smart.
me: you're so smart.
hiba: i am, huh?

me: hiba, why did you hit matthias?
hiba: umm...well, because i don't like matthias in me and daddy's house. i don't like him in my house.
me: well, tough luck. he's here to stay.

hiba, in response to dropping an entire bowl of cheerios all over the floor: well, that's a bummer!

jason, to hiba after she went to the bathroom in the toilet: wow, hiba! i'm so proud of you! you are such a big girl!
hiba: now i can play rugby!!!
jason: huh?
hiba: you said i can play rugby when i'm a bigger. i'm a big girl now, so i can play rugby!

hiba: stay still! don't move!! do you understand me?!? do you understand? yes or no???
(this was said to a door that was closing a little bit....)

hiba, to me as i came out of the bathroom: mommy, did you go pee-pee in the potty like hiba does? wow, mommy! you are such a big girl! i am so proud of you! do you want candy?

Friday, August 20

if only i remembered earlier...

since we have moved back to the US, i've struggled a lot with a post-missionary entitlement attitude. i tend to think that i'm pretty great and that i've sacrificed so much for God that he owes me. and that's partly true. i mean, not the owing part, but the sacrifice part. by moving to palestine, jason and i put our careers on hold, gave up the chance to save up a lot of money before having kids, spent a significant time away from friends and family that we love, lived in a place that was pretty tough to live sometimes, moved to little rock when it wasn't our first choice. and that's great and all - go us. but it sure doesn't mean that God owes us anything.

but i keep thinking that it does. and i keep forgetting what has already been provided. jason got a job weeks after we got back, which is pretty amazing in this economy. our supporters generously continued supporting us for a few months after we got back so we could get our feet under us. we bought a house. we got a wonderful gift from uncle sam in april. we bought a car. we have new clothes. we go out to eat on a regular basis. we have a pool membership. we eat good food. the ac runs constantly in our house.

and those are just the material blessings. we have two beautiful, healthy kids. jason and i are both healthy. we love each other. we're making friends. we think we've found a church and are starting to get involved there. we've found outside activities that we like.

but i still find myself thinking 1) i am owed more and 2) now that i'm not a "missionary", God will not provide for us financially the way he did when we were in Palestine. oh, how wrong i am.

earlier this week, we took our car into the shop because the ac wasn't working. what we thought was a freon leak turned into needing to replace a lot of parts which took a lot of labor which cost a lot of money. and since we live in the land of excessive humidity, not fixing the ac isn't really something i'm willing to do. now, thanks for the above mentioned ways that God has provided (uncle sam mainly), we do have some savings for things like this. but, it was gonna pretty much wipe that account out. my reaction to God was something like this:

ok, God. thanks for providing this money and all, but now look. we won't have any. what if matthias falls off the couch and has to go to the er? what if hiba tries to climb a tree and falls and breaks her arm? what if our hot water heater quits working? then what are we supposed to do? i mean, i know we have other money saved, but it's for redecorating the house. and i deserve that. i bought a house that wasn't as nice as i wanted in an area that wasn't my first choice because this is where we've been called to live. so i deserve to make it nice. i mean, i gave up three years of my life in palestine for you - i deserve this. and i know we have a little money saved for fun things - but i want to go on vacation. jason wants to visit marty in china. i want to go on a cruise with christa. and i deserve that too. i mean, we need our breaks. i spent three years in palestine! i gave up three years of saving money, working, making "smart" financial decisions. it was fine while we were there, because we were missionaries and we could ask people for money. but what will we do now if something happens? how are you going to provide for us? when are you going to reward me for all that i've sacrificed for you??

i know. reading it now, it sounds pretty silly. especially with what happened next.

this morning our mechanic called to tell us the car was ready. the ac is running great and we can pick it up whenever we want. and then he said, "oh, and the good news is that someone from your church came by and paid for it".

and here's the really funny thing - we don't really have a church.

i'm glad that God deals with us gently when we need him to. yesterday, i had completely overlooked all of the ways He has provided for me - both in palestine and since we've been back. i'd put his way of providing for me into a little box and tucked it away labeled "things God does for you when you're a missionary". i'd limited the way that he could choose to provide for me and ignored all sorts of ways that he has and is providing for me. instead of being thankful for His love, grace, and provision i was focused on how awesome i was and how much i deserved. and instead of slapping me in the face (which is, in fact, what i deserved), Jesus paid for the ac in my car. i hope next time i'll remember.