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.