Saturday, October 29

saturday's a rugby day!

Little Rock's Future Prop

Such a cutie!

Cheering on daddy

All conked out
beautiful weather. friends to hang out with. rugby to watch. all adds up to a pretty great saturday. did i mention that my awesome husband was man of the match? yeah, he's pretty great.

Thursday, October 27

open a freaking door

you know what i'm tired of?

(i can hear all of you holding your breath in anticipation of my answer. i know you all really care.)


as in, "when God closes a door, he opens a window".

well, guess what. i don't like windows. they are annoying. they are inconvenient. they take a lot longer to get through, they are harder to climb through, you can't take as much crap with you when you crawl through them. it would be much easier if i could just walk through an open door.

about a year ago, i was suffering from post-missionary entitlement syndrome. i think i'm over that. i've moved on to just suffering from entitlement syndrome.

and i don't actually really feel entitled to all that much. i know that my little family is blessed beyond what we could ask or imagine. we are all healthy. we all love each other. we have a warm house and cozy beds. i have more shoes than can fit in the shoe holder in my closet. we have clothes pouring our of dressers. we eat really good food, until our stomachs hurt from being so full. we have great friends. we have an awesome faith community. God has definitely provided far beyond anything i deserve.

but it's still frustrating. especially when doors seem to be opening. doors that look really cool on the side. doors that seem to be opening when i'm not even looking for open doors. doors that i look through and see the life that i think we not only want to live, but the life i think we are called to live.

so i walk towards the door. with a lot of confidence. and a lot of gratitude. and a lot of hope. and then...


closed. and that's it. and there's always a little window next to the door that i can climb through, but the window really leads back to where i was.

and i know that where we are is not a bad place to be. i want for nothing. (well, except an iphone, but in grand scheme of things....). but this place does not seem to be our "forever place". you know, that place where you get when you are doing what you want to do. our grown up life. our living-with-a-purpose-and-loving-every-minute-of-it life. that's the life i see through the doors that keep closing. and i'm getting a little tired of climbing back in through the window and waiting for the next door to open. 

Wednesday, October 26

fear and safety

warning: this is not a very up-beat post. i've been meaning to write this for about a week, and finally found the time to sit down and do it. it's not nearly as fun as talking about hiba and matthias or food or fun things we do, but this is life, so hear goes....

about two weeks ago, a student at UALR went missing. in broad daylight. she left her house at 8:45 a.m. and never made it to her 10 a.m. class. her car was found in a burger king parking lot, where students park every day. a very busy parking lot. with lots of people and businesses around. no one had seen her or knew what happened. her body was found a few days later.

it's a tragic story. there are a lot of unanswered questions and the last i heard, there are no suspects. but the thing about this story for me is that it happened in my neighborhood.

the parking lot where her car was found is a five minute walk from my house. i don't walk in that area often, but now i won't. since there are no leads or suspects, or at least none that the police are sharing with the public, even walking in my neighborhood makes me nervous. i know that patricia and i have very different lives and just because something happened to her doesn't mean it will happen to me. but it's scary. which is a very sad, conflicting feeling for me.

jason and i have never been ones to shy away from "dangerous" situations. we moved to palestine days after the 2006 war between israel and lebenon. we actually boarded the plane to fly into tel aviv the day a ceasefire was agreed upon. we lived in palestine for three and a half years, including during the time that hamas took over the gaza strip and the israeli war on gaza. our kids were born there and i had no reservations about raising them there. even though it seemed dangerous to others, we never were really afraid. yes, there were times that we were nervous. but after those isolated incidents were over, there was no fear. i never thought the israeli military would come arrest us in the middle of the night. i never thought a building that we were living in would be demolished. i never thought we would be kidnapped by hamas. i knew that if any real threat was upon us, our friends would help take care of us. so it wasn't really scary.

when we moved back to the US, we wanted to live in a place that others might not choose to live. when we bought our house, we knew it wasn't in the nicest neighborhood, but we knew it wasn't in the worst. we believed (and still do) that God was calling us to live in area that we could make a positive difference simply by living there. we want to do more than just live here, but it's a good start in how we can impact the community around us. we didn't have a strong community to come with us, so we chose a place in the middle - not great, not the "safest", but not really scary. our neighborhood is quiet, has a lot of families, and a lot of people own their houses. a few streets over though, different story. which is the burger king is.

jason and i probably have a different theology of safety than a lot of people that we know. his life motto is "better sorry than safe". we both believe that God ever promises us safety. He promises he will be with us, that He will never leave us, but He never promises us we'll be safe. quite the opposite in fact. so i don't think it's appropriate for me to expect a safe, cushy life. i don't think it's appropriate for our family to shy away from danger. because that is not the life that Jesus has called us to.

but now that's changed.

now that "danger" is real. now that fear is growing every day in my mind. now, when i see someone walking down the street, i think "i wonder if he did it". when i hear a noise, i think "are my doors locked?". when it's a beautiful day, i think "i don't really feel comfortable taking a walk around my neighborhood because what if something happens". when i know that jason is walking home from the UALR gym, i think "he left five minutes ago. he should be home by now. i wonder if i should call the police?". every time i hear sirens, i think "i wonder if they caught someone. i wonder where they live". so i lock my doors, i stay inside, i don't meet the new neighbors, i read the news obsessively hoping for answers.

i still believe that this is where God has called us to live. i still believe we should be doing a better job of hanging out with people in our neighborhood. i still believe that God's promise to be with me is way better than if He had promised me i would always be safe. i still believe that we should not pass on a theology of fear, but rather a theology of love and sacrifice to our kids.

but it's a lot harder to say that and write that nowadays. two weeks ago, i would have given you a long lecture. now i half-heartedly say this is how we're called to live, while secretly looking for houses online. two weeks ago i would have invited you to rent the house next door. now, i think you probably wouldn't want to.

fear can be a crippling thing. the thing is, it's almost based on some sort of reality. but how i respond is my choice. i can let the fear rule over me, stay home, avoid the park, avoid the neighbors, be suspicious of everyone i see. or i can rest in the knowledge that God is good. He is with me. He will never leave me. He will never leave my children. He never left Patricia. in the middle of fear, sadness, doubt, confusion - He is there.

Tuesday, October 25

all my children

hiba is going through a mommy stage. not a i-love-my-mom-so-much-that-she-is-the-only-one-who-can-hold-me-or-help-me-with-anything-and-if-anyone-else-who-may-love-me-like-my-dad-offers-to-help-or-hug-me-i-get-offended-or-throw-a-fit stage. no, that would be thing 2. it's sweet and all that he loves me, but it's getting a little out of control. i mean really, is throwing yourself on the ground the appropriate response to your dad asking if you want his help when you wanted your mom's help, but she is in the middle of making dinner and still standing in the same room as you, so what's the big freaking deal?


back to hiba. so she has the mommy bug. she spends the majority of her time alone (like during rest time, not like when we leave her at home or anything) taking care of her children.

it started with about five - missy sissy, baby hiba, bob the tomato (the mom, not to be confused with bob the tomato from veggie tales), farmer, and cowy. during her big girl rest time, she would set them up, read to them, give them baths, cook for them - you know, things like that. it was pretty cute.

Farmer, Bob the Tomato, and Baby Hiba

Story time!
 over the weeks, her children have multiplied. they now include (but are not limited to) daddy truck, baby truck, yellow bear, baby sasha, the purple elephant car (i think her name is just "the sister"), mommy lego, baby lego, and a whole lot more. basically any toy that is small and has a face is her child.

Hiba's ever-growing family

she sets up trains for them. she gives them boat rides. she still bathes and feeds them (which is impressive, since i stopped doing that when my children went from one to two. i can't imagine trying to bathe 27 or however many she has.), she plays with them, reads them bedtime stories. it's sweet.

Daddy Truck, Cowy, the Turtle, and Baby Truck. 
that is, until someone (i.e. matthias) tries to touch them. which is often, since she has taken over most of the toys, including cars and trucks which are technically his. let's just say she's a very protective mom. and he has not yet been named the adoptive father. every once in a while he seems to be granted supervised visitation rights.

Thursday, October 20

hungry? grab a snickers.

i subbed today for the first time today. all day. 4th grade.

a few observations....
i don't ever want to be a full time teacher. ever. at all.
i get cranky when i don't eat.

overall, it was a good day. it was fun and i enjoyed the kids. i subbed for the same class that i teach in the afternoons, so it was nice to already know the students. but it also meant i had a looooooong time with them. other than probably getting played by an overly dramatic child when i told her i was emailing her parents, getting my snickers bar stolen by one of the students, and having a student flatly refuse to do any work that i assigned, it was a great day.

cheers to all you teachers out there. for real. 

Monday, October 17

who knew mondays could be good?

jason has started working monday nights. while this is not my first choice when it comes time to put the kids to bed (especially weeks like this when he is gone every night except friday), it is pretty nice during the day on monday. especially since he isn't working over the weekend, so we still have the actual weekend to hang out and do things, but then we get an added bonus on monday mornings.

so this morning, we took a family outing to the state fair. i wasn't sure if it would be fun or an epic failure, but since it was free and jason was going with us, i figured we should take the chance. and i'm so glad we did. we had a great time and will definitely be making this a yearly tradition.

the kids got to ride several kiddie rides. hiba LOVED them. she and i even went on a little roller coaster and she absolutely loved it. as soon as it was over she wanted to do it again. that made my heart happy, since i am like a little kid when it comes to fun rides. i can't wait till she's old enough to take to a real amusement park. matthias did not love the rides as much. for being such a precocious kid, he sure is not a thrill seeker. he sort of like the tea-cups and he sort of like the car merry-go-round, but he didn't love them. but he did love the animals. especially the little cows. so we all ended up having a good time. i am so glad i decided to go this morning instead of waiting till friday (which is also free for kids from 9 - 11), because i'm not sure how that would have worked out. so yay for a fun start to the week - who knew mondays could actually be good?

Hiba rode on the first ride all by herself - she is fearless!  
That's my girl!

Even the train made Matthias a little nervous, but he had Hiba there to help him.

This was about as excited as he got on the carousel...and this was before we were moving. 

Hiba loved it!

This was Hiba's favorite ride

All ready to go on the roller coaster with mommy!

Another ride Matthias tolerated

Yay for cow!

He loved it in the animal area - so glad that he had some fun!

Saturday, October 15

a little of this, a little of that

so after my overly dramatic post a few days ago, things are looking up. and really they weren't ever too bad. i think i'm just sleep deprived. my kids refuse to both sleep through the night and since jason usually has to get up at some ungodly hour, i'm on kid duty at night. which means i haven't gotten an uninterrupted night of sleep in, oh, two years. it can make a person crazy.


friday was way better than thursday. my friend who had been watching hiba and matthias had to go out of town due to sick family, so lizzie graciously volunteered to watch my kids. at our house. she did get to skip the afternoon of school, so i feel like she got a pretty good deal, but my kids got to nap, i got to watch gray's anatomy and we got to have a fun morning, so we got a good deal to. and when i got home from work, lizzie had made dinner and cookies and my kids had played outside so they were nice and tired and she gave them a bath after dinner. i told her she's like the mom i've always wanted to be. ha.

plus, i hired a new babysitter! yay! we met at chick-fil-a and i think she will be great. hiba talked her ear off and she didn't seem to mind, so i take that as a great sign. funny story - when i was hiring my first babysitter, i met a couple of them at chick-fil-a and the day ended by hiba peeing in the playground and us making a quick exit because of a lack of extra clothes. yesterday, the day ended by matthias having a massive blowout in his diaper (something that hasn't happened in months) and us making a quick exit because he was in socks and a diaper. fun times. luckily, this time around i had clothes in the car for him.

we even made it to the library! hiba got her own library card and checked out some books, which was actually quite anit-climactic. about a year ago, when i got my card, i held off on getting the kids' cards, because i was told they get a cute little bag and a free book, but at the time they were out. so instead of going back the next week, we waited a year and i was so excited about it, but she still didn't get anything cool and wasn't too impressed with her card. oh well.

last night, jason and i went to our first book club meeting. two other couples and us have started it, but it's reading optional. my kind of book club. the book read were supposed to read this month was nurture shock, which actually looks really interesting. we talked about race, poverty, intentional living, budgets, family was kind of a loaded night, but a lot of fun. i think there are a lot of diverse ideas within the group, even though it's only six people, but a lot of the same values and big ideas - just different views on how to get there. one of the couples have a "family plan" - basically an outline of their family values, what kind of life they want to have, what they want to provide for their kids, etc. - that they use to make life decisions. jason and i are totally making one, since as you all know we have no life direction way too many life directions. my head is spinning with ideas of what it will look like - move back overseas, start an intentional community here, move to the ghetto, get high-paying jobs and make a lot of money so we can give it away, homeschool our kids, send our kids to the worst schools here. lots of ideas and i'm excited to see where we go with this.

today jason has his first rugby game of the fall season. well, i guess last week was actually his first game, but he missed to to be at jbu homecoming to play in the alumni game. so he's gone all day, which means it's just me and the kiddos. i have big, exciting plans. laundry, dishes, grocery shopping. fun times. they have actually been playing together pretty well this morning (knock on wood), so we'll see where the day takes us.

tomorrow is service sunday at our church. i love our church. we're meeting at miss bev's house to do some yardwork and maybe fix stuff up inside and then have lunch with the ladies living there. i love that this is what our church is spending it's time and energy on. i love that this is what our kids' get to see on a regular basis as what the Church is. i'll probably write more about that another day.

and now my kids are screaming and probably biting. time to go distract with cheese crackers.

happy weekend!

Friday, October 14

a sweet bedtime story

tonight as i was putting hiba to bed, we had a sweet conversation. it went something like this:

hiba: i don't want you to leave, i don't want to be in here by myself.
me: awww, don't worry. matthias is here. and Jesus.
hiba: yeah. Jesus is always with me. (and I am thinking "awesome. she gets it. she listens to me. sweet.") what about God?
me: yes, God is always with you, too.
hiba: yeah, like when the shark is chasing me, Jesus and God can be the door and then i can't get into the shark's mouth.

uhhh. sure. that's totally what i meant. 

Thursday, October 13

the daily grind

i am tired. exhausted. worn out. stretched thin. any of those could describe me pretty well these days. it seems like the chores just never end. everywhere i look there are piles of laundry to be folded, lesson plans to be written, rugs to vacuum, dished to be washed, dinner to be made, floors to get the point. i feel like the last few weeks, my time has been so consumed with these daily tasks that i haven't had time to rest or enjoy life. which is one reason i haven't blogged lately - all i have to write about is complaining about life. (not like this post....).

a good measure of how rested i am is how much tv i get to watch and how much i do with the kids outside of running errands. i have three episodes of grey's, two episodes of desperate housewives, all of this season of 30 rock, and two episodes of the office that i haven't watched. the last twenty viewed videos on our netflix are either yo gabba gabba or dora. those were not my choices. i've never been the kind of mom who takes my kids on lots of spontaneous outings, but i do sometimes and i do plan things a lot. i can count on zero hands the number of times we've been to the library or the park or the zoo or really anywhere that is not called kroger, target, or walmart in the last three weeks.

i'm even not enjoying things that i usually do enjoy. our babysitter that i had for work had to quit two weeks ago, which has made working a bigger chore than it may be work. luckily, i have great friends who took my kids for play dates the first week and a friend who is watching them this week. but i means nap-time is moved up (which is usually a failure - for example, i can hear matthias right now and he is not asleep. probably not even on his bed), and the "work time" is added on to because of driving. fingers crossed that i'll hire someone to come here by next week. teen mops has been going for four weeks and i'm starting to dread each week. ok, maybe that's a little dramatic too, but it's so much work and it's been hard to see any positive pay-off with the girls this year, so it's hard. i love planning for it, but by the time thursday night rolls around i just want to sit and watch tv and drink a glass of wine. even writing this blog right now isn't my first choice of how to spend my time. everyday life is sucking the joy and fun out of everything. yes. dramatic.

i know i make choices that form the way my life is. our family makes choices. jason makes choices. i make choices. some choices i love and wouldn't change, no matter how hard it is. some i tolerate and am able to see the greater good. some i'm not so happy about, but i'm trying to stick it out before giving up. but right now it feels like day to day life isn't a choice so much as a list of things to do before crashing on my bed at night.

i have lots of things i want to be doing. i want to be excited about the lesson plans i'm making for my job. i just switched to 4th grade literacy which is a kajillion times better than 1st grade. i have a lot of cool ideas that i'm actually excited about. i want to be going to the zoo, playing in the leaves, going to a pumpkin patch, going to the library with my kids. i want to be taking pictures of them playing together and making photo books so i don't forget this stage of their life (no matter how much i want to some days. ha.). i want to be writing more blog posts - bragging on my kids, more stories from china, writing about where our lives are and aren't headed, sharing fun recipes.

so what's the point? i don't know. i don't know how to make the daily chores go away or be more manageable. i don't know how to be more rested. i don't know how to make more time for myself without ignoring all the things to be done. so for now, i'll keep on keeping on, knowing that some day soon hiba will be old enough to do the dishes. 

Monday, October 3

just what i needed

last week was a long week. i'm not really sure why. nothing in particular, just regular life with a 2-year-old and a 3 1/2-year-old. and most days being an emphasis on the longest days and looking forward to the shortest years. at any rate, by this weekend i was ready to be done.

friday started off pretty bad. we went to the zoo with some friends on friday morning, which i thought would be fun. beautiful day, animals, friends - what's not to love? well, apparently when you are 3 1/2 there is a lot not to love, like pretty much everything in life. so what could have been a fun outing ended in tears and screaming on pretty much everyone's part. so when i realized i still needed to go grocery shopping after naps, i was less than trilled.

but then my weekend took a very pleasant turn. naptime was extra long, i actually got to sleep, and jason called right when i was getting ready to leave to tell me he as on his way home. so we took a family shopping trip, which took half as much time and ended with everyone happy instead of melting down. which is always a much better way to go, in my opinion.

we got home, fed the kids, put them to bed and had an at-home date night. if someone would come do the dishes after those, they would be my absolute favorite. i love cooking with jason and we make some pretty yummy food. we made pizza with shrimp and veggies and pesto sauce using an amazing no-rise crust. i was a little skeptical, but it turned out really well and was super yummy. then we spent the rest of the evening catching up on our favorite comedies - gotta love some office and modern family. a rugby friend of jason's was in town, so then he went out with them super late, which meant i also got to watch grey's anatomy and go to bed early. win win for everyone.

on saturday, jason wanted to take matthias out for breakfast and then take hiba to the women's rugby game in the afternoon. which meant i would get to stay home all day (which was actually wonderful) and only have one kid. it was so fun. i think both hiba and matthias had a great time spending time alone with each of us and i know i enjoyed it. after jason got home from breakfast, he needed to run some errands and offered to take both kids! so in addition to sleeping in and only having one kid for most of the day, i also got an hour to myself. i literally did not know what to do with myself. i don't do well with unplanned free time - i think of all the things i should be doing and then just sit and watch tv because i can't decide what to do. so that's what i did. yay for college football.

sunday was pretty normal sunday - church, football, jason working out, family dinner, and bedtime.

i'm so glad that i got this weekend. sometimes you just need things like that. i'm so glad i got a lot of rest. i'm so glad that i got to spend some good, quality time with my kids that i actually enjoyed. i'm so glad that i got to spend time with jason. i'm so glad that he got a ton of time with the kids and we got a good amount of time as a family. it makes me feel like i can conquer the week ahead, even with all the craziness and meltdowns i know it is sure to bring.

i'll leave you with these. a little photo shoot of matthias while we were home on saturday afternoon. seriously, how cute is he?!?!