Quick to Listen

1.30.2013

When I decided to join in Beth Moore's Siesta Scripture Memory Team, I hoped that each verse I chose would really speak to me and maybe even change me a little bit. The Lord knows I need all the help I can get and I have been praying for Him to show me the verses that he wants me to commit memory.

My first verse, Proverbs 31:25, jumped out at me because of the transition we are currently going through. I've told you guys before that I am a worrier by nature. I can sit and stew over things for hours when in the end I really have absolutely no control over any of it. I thought the verse was perfect because it reminded me that I don't need to worry about the future because He is in control. Isn't that a comforting thought?  No matter what life throw my way, I know that God has a reason for it and all that He asks is that I remain strong and dignified while also leaning on Him. Memorizing that verse was easy for me and I can now recite it forwards and backwards. I hope that it will stick with me forever...

My second verse is James 1:19. 

Understand this, my dear brother and sisters. You must be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.

My first true encounter with this verse was during the James study I did last year. I remember reading it and being immediately convicted. I had to take a good, hard look at myself. Am I quick to listen? Do I hold my tongue and remain calm? I'm sure you can guess that my answer was a big fat NO.

You see, I've always been a talker. I mean, I went to the principal's office in Kindergarten for talking too much. Really. So it's easy for me to say that talking a lot is in my nature. And now that I am a stay at home momma, I crave adult conversation so badly. That means when I do get around other adults I tend to talk my head off. I honestly don't let the other person get a word in edgewise.

As far as listening goes, I'm sure you can guess that I'm not the best at that. How can I be when all I do is talk? I thought about this quite a bit during our James study but I don't think I really took action on it. So when I was deciding on my second verse for SSMT, this immediately popped into my head. When I first chose it I thought only the first portion of the verse really pertained to me. I'm not an angry person by nature and I don't feel like I get mad very easily.

But after thinking about it a little more these last few weeks I realized that while I don't get angry, I do get easily annoyed. And in the end isn't that really the same thing? As I work on committing this verse to memory, I pray that God uses it to change me. 

Wouldn't it be neat to go from someone who talks too much to someone that everyone comes to because they know you will listen? Or to be able to hold your tongue no matter what the situation? And to remain patient, happy, and calm when faced with anything?

It sounds like a lot- maybe even impossible. Especially for someone like me who loves to talk. But guess what? It is possible! I know I can't do it by myself. And I know that I'll never do it perfectly but I also know that I can do it. With Him.

And that is the power of committing to memorize His word. It doesn't just sit there in your memory. It speaks to you. It reminds you. It makes you want to be different. To be a better person. I just can't wait to see what verse He has in store for me next!

The Day the Wifi Went Dark

1.29.2013

For the last few weeks Jesse and I have been meaning to stop by the office of our internet provider to let them know that we will be moving. I had planned on holding off until the very last day but Jesse thought it would be better to do it ahead of time in case they had some kind of crazy process to go through.

So yesterday on his lunch break he stopped by there and to find out what we needed to do. He told them we only needed for another week and gave them our cancelation date. Of course, they said that they absolutely could not shut if off in a week and that we had to give them a 30 day notice and pay for the next month. Jesse knew it wasn't worth arguing over so he paid for the month and set our cancelation date as February 28th. Besides having to wait in line forever he was pretty happy with the experience because it was relatively painless.

On his way back to the office he called me to let me know that he had taken care of it. We were both so relieved to have that last little item checked off. This was during E's nap time and I was happily surfing the internet, as usual. A few minutes later it suddenly stopped working. I hoped that it was just a coincidence but I had a feeling that our internet was gone for good. I spent the next few hours doing other things and kind of forgot about it.

Later on the evening I needed to look something up and realized that the internet still wasn't working. I decided to give them a call and find out what was going on. I'm sure you can guess what happened next. I was told that our service had been disconnected, just as we had requested earlier in the day. I tried to tell the guy that we were supposed to have service until the end of February and that we had actually paid for that service but it was completely futile. He told us we would have to go back to the office and sort it out with them.

We knew we didn't want to go without internet for the week because we pretty much have nothing else to do so Jesse headed back up there. And guess what? They also said that a mistake had been made and that there was really nothing they could do. We were told that we could fill out a new application to open a new account and that they would come in 5 working days to turn it on. Helpful, huh? So Jesse told the guy we wanted a refund for the month we had paid for and he was told the only way to do that is to go to the main office and fill out a request for the refund. He didn't bother to ask how many working days that would take.

So, as of yesterday we are officially internet-less. I know it's not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things but man I was annoyed! Luckily we have some awesome neighbors who allow us to use theirs. I've been able to sneak over and connect a few random times but it's obviously a little more difficult.

So if you don't hear from me for the next week or so, don't worry! All is well and we'll be on our way home before we know it!

A Cure for Cabin Fever

1.28.2013

We are sitting in an essentially empty house, trying to pass the time until we say good-bye to the UAE for good. Luckily, we have furniture and the basic kitchen essentials, but beyond that there's not much to fill the empty space. Emerson has done really well with the transition but I can tell that she is starting to get some major cabin fever. She cries anytime she sees anyone leaving and yells "bye bye" to tell me that she wants to go too.

Unfortunately, you can't get far without a car! Fortunately we have some amazing friends who have taken us places, stopped by for visits, and let us borrow toys. They've been lifesavers. Emerson and I have also done just about everything we can within and around the compound.

Here's a little bit of what we've done to cure our cabin fever:

-lots and lots of baths:

-mastered the art of jumping on the bed and doing front rolls

-climbed up and down the stairs a million times
 -many, many walks


-decided that the best way to swing is on the belly

-spent hours at the playground


-watched more movies that I care to admit

 -played with all of the neighbors' toys

 -learned how to slam dunk

-hitched a ride with the neighbors for dinner and a night at the indoor play center

-made a whole morning out of a visit to the health unit


-helped Daddy with some typing and phone calls


  
And now that we are in our last week, we are doing our very best to stay busy! Luckily we have some fun things planned and I feel like we'll be on our way out of here in no time!


Emerson at 20 Months

1.24.2013

I think I'm kind of in denial that my little baby will be two in just a matter of months! In some ways she's still so little to me, but in others she has become such a big girl. I think I really realized it last night when I was looking at a new batch of pictures. I got out my big camera for the the first time in a few weeks and snapped a few casual pictures of Emerson outside. When I loaded them onto my computer and started going through them I was shocked at how big E looks in some of them. It seems like all of those babyish features that were so prominent just a few short months ago have all but disappeared. But, of course, no matter how big she gets or how old she is, she will always, ALWAYS be my baby.
Here are a few notable things about Emerson at 20 Months:

-She has recently started calling me Mommy instead of Momma or Mom (that was the trend last month). She says it with a huge emphasis on the e sound at the end. It's so funny.

-She has become very interested in baby dolls. One day she had two of her babies sitting on her chair. She came over and started telling me something in an urgent voice but I couldn't understand her at first. Then she did the sign for crying and I realized that she was telling me that the babies were crying. I asked her what we were going to do for the babies and she told me "milk." So we found the babies bottle and gave it to them. She has also been wrapping them in blankets, patting them, and telling me that they are going night night.

-She adores music. She will tolerate kids music but she really loves country the best.

-She has some funny quirks. She hates getting dirty and if her hands are dirty she will want them wiped right away. She does not like sand at all and the last time we went to a sandy playground it took her about an hour to finally walk on the sand.

-Lately she has been saying hello instead of hi. So when she sees someone she knows she'll say "Hello Zoey." It sound so grown up.

-Her favorite food is yogurt. She could probably eat it 3 times a day if I would let her.

-She still says I love you all the time but now she puts our names in front of it. She'll grab me and say, "Mommy, I wuv you." Talk about heart melt. I pray that moments like that are the ones that stay in my memory forever.

-She also loves to hug, kiss, and pat us. I hope that she is always willing to show her affection like that.

-We were over a neighbors house and she has a sculpture of The Last Supper. Emerson walked right over to it, pointed, and said "Jesus." I thought it was pretty neat and I'm still not quite sure how she knew it was Jesus because her Bible has a cartoon Jesus.

-She absolutely LOVES to learn and she loves to tell us what she knows. She'll point out things and tell us the name of them over and over.

-She can identify every letter in the alphabet (except for calling I J) and knows about 18 of the sounds (thanks to Leap Frog letter factory which she is OBSESSED with). She loves to point out letters when she sees them out and about

-She can name the following shapes: triangle, square, rectangle, star, heart, diamond, octagon (she calls it stop)

-She says everything is yellow if you ask her what color it is. It used to be blue but now yellow is her go to answer. 

-If you ask her a question with the word how in it, she will automatically say good. (How did you sleep? How's your dinner? etc)

-She likes to tell us"stories." She'll stand in front of us and talk and talk. We can usually understand about every 5 word and the rest sounds like gibberish. But she says it with such excitement and seriousness, I know she is really telling us something.

-Her laugh is infectious and she will sometimes fall over in giggling fits.

-She asks to watch tv about 100 times a day. I usually limit it to one show or about 30 minutes but that won't stop her from asking for it again the rest of the day. She has been known to throw herself on the floor and cry if I won't let her watch tv or play on the ipap (iPad.) She definitely loves all forms of technology.

-I love her to pieces. I know I say that every month but I just can't get over how crazy I am about this little girl. She is amazing!


 (The neighhborhood kids were hiding in the bushes and she was standing there watching them and talking to them.)







We're Gonna Miss This

1.22.2013

Back in October I wrote this post about all the things I'm looking forward to when we get to the States. Just re-reading through that list got me even more excited!! We're almost to the single digits, baby!!

But thinking about what I'm looking forward to also reminded me of some of the great things we are going to miss about this place. And I guess it just wouldn't be fair to completely leave those out! So, here they are in no particular order:

-our neighborhood/compound: I absolutely LOVE where we live. It's small, everyone is friendly, and the kids can play safely outside. We have a little playground, a pool, and a gym all within steps of our front door. If I could pick up this place and move it with us, I totally would!

-our villa:  Even though I didn't really do a lot to make it feel like home, I have enjoyed living here. We have so much room (4 bedrooms/3 baths), tons of storage space, and it's nice and modern. I don't think I appreciated it enough until I started looking at what we can afford in California! :)

-our amazing neighbors: Seriously I can't say enough about how much I love our neighbors. (I feel like we've always lucked out in that department :(Magui, Kate, and Carol!!!) Anyway- they all adore Emerson and treat her like she's one of their own.

-our friends: Our best friends here are also our neighbors so I mean it when I say we lucked out.
We just love their family and Emerson is absolutely crazy about them and their kids. As soon as she walks out the front door she immediately starts running over to their house and yelling "Reff!"  (Jeff)

We will also miss Brittney, Grace, and Sophia so very much. It's hard to believe that we met though blogging because Brittney is definitely one of my favorite people here! And Emerson is just crazy about Grace. I hope that we can get them together again the future.

-how much people love kids: Seriously, the people here just love babies and children. They have always fawned over Emerson and treated her so well. Even though it could be a bit overwhelming at times I still find it so neat. I love that the guy at Tim Horton's gives Emerson a donut hole every time we stop by for coffee and the ladies at the grocery store stop and chat with E.

-the "winter" weather: The weather is seriously gorgeous this time of year. Luckily it's pretty similar to the weather in San Diego so I won't have to miss it for long. (And YAY for never going through a miserable Middle East summer again!!)

-Emerson's nursery- I have so many happy memories of our time spent together in that nursery (and in this house) I know I will always remember this place as the home where E spent her first (almost) two years of life. And even though we have all of the furniture and decor from her nursery and I could technically recreate it, I know it won't be quite the same

-not pumping gas- every gas pump here is full service. It's so nice to be able to drive right up and have someone else pump your gas for you! I will definitely miss that!

-food delivery- I know this sounds silly but I love that every restaurant delivers here. I can't tell you how many times we've had Subway or Charley's delivered. We can even order online from most places. Talk about convenient!

-Jesse's job- Although there are some aspects of the job that Jesse will not miss, I think he has enjoyed it overall. It's been totally different than anything he's done in the Marine Corps and he's gained a lot of good experience. We will definitely miss some of the perks that have come along with it.

And honestly, I think that's about it. As you can see it's definitely more about the people than it is the place! We're so thankful for everything we've gained in our time here and I know that we will always look back at this time fondly. And I think one we'll be able to laugh at all of the little inconveniences that annoyed us to death while we were here.

Until then, we'll try to enjoy these last few days with the special people we've met because we will be outta here before we know it!!


Moving Day

1.20.2013

Saturday was moving day! Well actually, I guess it was just packing day. The movers came, packed all of our belongings, and drove away! It looks like we won't be seeing our stuff for at least a good 6 weeks- probably more.

We've known for a while that they would be coming soon so we have been busy preparing, but we didn't know the exact date until Thursday. That meant I was running around like a crazy person all day Friday trying to make sure that everything was separated. 
We had three different categories: our air shipment, our sea shipment, and whatever we are taking in our suitcases. As you can imagine it can be difficult to decide what needs to go where. It can be even more difficult to keep everything in it's proper pile. Emerson kept finding her toys I had set aside and pulling them out! Poor baby just didn't understand why everything was put away (or piled up!)
Friday night we hit a bittersweet milestone: it was the ver last night for Emerson to sleep in her crib and in her nursery. It was sad taking down all of the decorations and knowing that it would never be her nursery again!
The movers showed up bright and early on Saturday morning and went right to work. There was a team of 6 or 7 but it still took them all day. Since all of the furniture belongs to the embassy they were only packing our belongings and E's nursery furniture. We're thankful that we still have a bed to sleep on!

 Emerson enjoyed supervising from her chair- at least until they had to pack it up.

She was full of energy that day and didn't get a nap so we did a lot of outside play to keep her busy and out of the movers' way.

Once it was all said and done we had about 2,800 pounds packed up and ready to go. The house looks empty without all of our stuff and I think it's especially boring for Emerson. I don't know how we're going to keep busy for the rest of our time here with no car and no toys! I'm betting we'll be walking over to the park quite often!

One of the biggest adjustments has been not having all of Emerson's gear. We now have no high chair and no crib! I was worried about how it was going to go but E seems to be adjusting like a champ. I made her a makeshift booster with pillows and she's thrilled to be eating at the big table! 
My sweet friend Brittney offered to let us borrow her pack n play but I hated for her to have to drive all the way over here to bring it so we decided to just try a twin sized mattress on the floor in E's room. The room is completely empty so I knew there was nothing she could get into.  I was still a little bit leery of the whole idea because I honestly didn't think she would stay on the mattress. But she did! And  we have now had two successful nights and a nap on the mattress! Go Emerson! She did, however, learn how to open her bedroom door yesterday so we have to lock it from the outside. The movers took our baby gates and I don't want to risk her opening her door in the middle of the night and trying to go down the stairs! I'm so proud of how well E is handing the transition. I had no plans to put her in a toddler bed anytime soon we but it looks like the direction we may be headed. I guess we'll just wait and see what happens when we get to California!

 I'm so relieved that the packing part is over with! Now it's on to the worst part of all: the good-byes! :(



The Little Lemon That Couldn't

1.16.2013

Right before Emerson was born I told y'all about a few of my dream vehicles. I had plans for us to drive our little 4 Runner until we moved back to the States where we could then proceed to buy any car that we wanted.

Unfortunately those plans went right out the window when we found out that we couldn't bring our 4 Runner here. They don't allow imports older than 5 years so we had to sell it in Africa. Once we arrived we went through the long, ardous process of finding a car to buy here. Let me tell you- it was a total pain in the neck! But after about 6 weeks we were finally able to find something that we loved. I didn't really have anything in particular in mind when we started looking- I just knew that I wanted something safe for Emerson because the drivers here a are crazy. But once I saw this car I just knew it was the one for us. Plus the price couldn't be beat! The owner seemed trustworthy enough and we just felt good about the whole deal.

We jumped through plenty of hoops to get our dollars converted to dirhams and to get the paperwork transferred over, but about 10 days later we were finally the owners of our new (to us) Volvo XC90.

Unfortunately our little dream bubble burst the very next day when we took it in for the inspection to get it registered and it failed due to faulty shocks. We had that repaired for a small fee and then we were on our way.

The car drove great and I loved the feeling that Emerson was super safe! But then one day I was taking her to a playgroup and the power steering went out. I won't even tell you how much it cost to fix it because you would probably cry.

From that point on it just seemed like one little thing after the other. We quickly realized that our dream car was actually a lemon. We also learned that Volvos are not good as lemons because they are quite costly to repair. It's even worse here because there is only one place in the entire city that will do any work on them so they can pretty much charge whatever they want. Luckily we knew that we would only have to drive the car for another year and then we would be able to sell it and start fresh.

Around May we noticed that two of the tires seemed to be losing air quite regularly. Jesse took it in to have it checked out thinking that we probably just needed new tires. But no! That would have been too easy. Instead we learned that the rims had begun corroding due to the extreme heat.  They had microscopic holes in them that were allowing air to leak through. We were then quoted a price to replace the rims. Talk about sticker shock. We honestly could have bought a small used car for the price  we would have pay to replace the rims and tires.

Luckily, we were able to do a quick repair in the hopes that we could hold off until it was time to sell it (with full disclosure to the buyers, of course!) Unfortunately that meant that the tires needed air about every 4 days. It was such a hassle but we were relieved we didn't have to spend a semester's worth of E's college fund to fix it.

Around October we finally decided we had enough and put the car up for sale. We knew we wanted to sell it quickly so we advertised it way below what we bought it for. We took into account all of it's issues and priced it accordingly. Since it's not up to American specs we knew we couldn't import it back to the US so we just wanted to get rid of it and move on. Of course, it didn't quite work that way.

We had lots of people come look at it but they all kept giving us these crazy, lowball offers.  I think they thought we were dumb Americans or something and that we would just take whatever they offered. By the beginning of December we were starting to get nervous. We certainly didn't want to have to worry about trying to sell it after we left but we also didn't want to take such a low amount just to get it off our hands.

As time went on we noticed more and more things seemed to be going wrong. The tires were losing air faster than ever and it seemed to be making all kinds of groans and creaks every time we drove. The replace headlamp light came on even though the lights were all working and the oil change light came on. We honestly felt like we were driving a ticking time bomb that was about to cost us a whole lot of money! It was stressful and nerve wracking and all we could think about was getting rid of that darn car.

Our prayers were finally answered this week when we received an acceptable offer and we were able to get rid of our little lemon. We definitely didn't make any money or even come close to covering all of the repairs we had to do over the last year and a half but at least we know that we no longer have to worry about it.  The little lemon that couldn't is officially dead and gone (to us, anyway) It's a huge relief and our last big to-do before we head home.


Throughout our journey with our junker we learned some pretty important lessons:

1. We will never, ever, ever buy another Volvo. Now I know that there are many Volvo fans out there and that lots of them run for years and years without a single issue. I honestly think that we were just the unfortunate souls who got one of the rare lemons. It doesn't matter though. Our view of Volvos are officially tainted. Never. Ever.

2. If we ever go overseas again we will bring our own car. Not being able to bring our 4 runner threw us for a loop but if we could do it all over again we would have bought another car in the States in between our two posts and brought it with us. Isn't hindsight always 20/20?

3. We are Toyota fans for life. Before the Volvo we owned 6 different Toyotas ranging from years models 1994 to 2006. We never had a single issue with any of them!

I'm sure you can guess what kind of car we plan on buying when we move back. Hint: It's NOT a Volvo.



The 4 Ps

1.15.2013

Married...With a Pup


Today I'm linking up with Katie to share my 4 Ps. I've always wanted to do something similar in a prayer journal but unfortunately I haven't kept up with it. But I do blog pretty regularly so this seems like a perfect marriage of the two!

 Here's a breakdown of each P, in case you're wondering. :)

Peaks: highlights of the week; overall positives 
Pits: low point(s) of the week 
Praises: praising God for specific things that have happened throughout the week 
Prayers: prayer requests that arose during the week or have been lingering

And here are mine for the week:

Peaks:
-We sold our car! I can't even tell you what a huge deal this is. Look for a more in-depth post later this week. It's been quite the ordeal.

-I made two shirts for two precious sisters! I can't wait to see them wearing them. 

-Our plane tickets were purchased. We really, truly are coming home so soon!! 

-Emerson is like a little sponge and is just soaking up everything. It's amazing and I'm loving every second of it. Her newest thing is when I ask her who we're going to see in Texas she'll answer, "Family!" and then name off each person we're going to see. I die!


Pits:
-My sweet E woke up with a yucky cold this morning. By afternoon she seemed to be feeling a bit better but she was miserable again tonight. :(

-Now that we sold our car we will have to go without one until we leave. Jesse can take taxis to work but E and I will pretty much be homebound. Hopefully the time will go by quickly!

Praises:
-The stress of deciding where to live hasn't been fun but I feel like God gave me the answers I was looking for and a real sense of peace about all of it.

-Today is Day 2 of Beth Moore's Siesta Scripture Memory Team. My verse for the second half of January is James 1:19. I love being part of this and having a great accountability partner!

-Receiving encouraging messages from friends and family. Thanks for your sweet message, Granny! You're the best!

-I'm just so thankful for my health and my ability to work out. The last few days I have been in a bit of slump and I haven't felt like working out but then I'm quickly reminded how lucky I am to be able to workout. That usually motivates me to get going!


Prayers:
-Praying for a blog friend and her family who lost her brother and two nephews this weekend.

-For all of my pregnant friends to have uneventful pregnancies and healthy, full-term babies

-For patience and grace throughout the next few weeks and throughout our move 

-That God would help me to be the best mother and wife that I can be. I know that I have so many areas that I could improve upon and I just pray that He shows me what He would like me to do better


What are your 4 Ps this week? Link up with Katie to share.

I Know I'm Boring...

1.14.2013

Happy Monday friends! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! We did, even though we didn't do much. Jesse had to work quite a bit so Emerson and I had plenty of girl time! We also did some more sorting and packing. Unfortunately I've been a major slacker when it comes to picture taking, so all I have are a few iPhone pics to share.  And once again, I'm just going to share a few random things because that's what I like to do on Mondays! :)

-I realize I've been quite the boring blogger lately! I know you are probably sick of hearing about our move but honestly it's forefront in our lives right now so it's basically all we talk about! I promise it will be over soon. And then I'll be jabbering on about settling into our new lives in California! :)

-On that note, thank you all so much for your comments on my post about commuting. We were leaning a bit one way when I wrote the post and after lots of talking (and praying) we've decided to try to find a place as close as possible to Jesse's work. At the beginning of next week we'll get an offer for a few places in military housing. If we like one of the ones offered we will go ahead and pre-lease. If not we will try to find somewhere to rent out in town once we arrive. We decided that we want to be able to enjoy everything that the city has to offer and we want Jesse to be close by in case of emergencies, so it just seems like the best choice for our family. It feels good to have that decision made!

-We've been trying to squeeze in as many playdates as we can with Brittney, Grace and Sophia. Emerson just loves Grace and talks about her all the time. When we first met, the girls mostly played side by side but now they actually interact with each other and it's pretty much the cutest thing ever.


-Emerson's hair is getting so long and she's finally letting me experiment a little bit. I absolutely love it in pigtails but I'm also pretty smitten with the baby ponytail.

-I have always hated tea. Sweet, iced, hot- it doesn't matter. I know that's pretty much unheard of for a southerner but I have never liked it. Recently I decided to give it another try because I love drinking hot drinks but I feel like I drink too much coffee. I bought this Chai Tea and I am hooked. It is so delicious!  I guess I can say I'm a tea drinking convert.
- I finally finished Emerson's first year photobook. It was hours and hours of work but I know it will be worth it when it comes in. Plus it was so much fun to look back at all of her pictures. The hardest part was narrowing it down to my favorites. The max number of pages for a book is 111 and I used every single page. I'm pretty certain that I could have used at least 200 if they would have let me. I had to leave a lot of pictures out but I did use most of my favorites. Now I have to start on year two!!

- Remember my goal to read at least 25 books this year? I'm off to a pretty good start. I finished Divergent and I'm halfway through Insurgent and another book called The Politically Incorrect Wife. It feels so good to be reading again and I highly recommend all three of these books!

-I guess that's about it for today! I'm sure I'll be back later this week with more random info that you probably don't care to know! 




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