Sunday, January 31, 2010

Happy Birthday to one Amazing Mom

Because Walgreens wouldn't let me upload this today, it'll take a few days before your "card" is delivered to your house. We hope you have a great birthday. Thank you for everything you do for us. We wish we could give you a big hug today but we are thankful for skype.

You'll also be getting this in the mail soon, although it's being shipped from the UK so it might be a week or so. We hope that you can use it for your groceries or anything else you need to carry and that it reminds you of how loved you are.

Lastly we had to have some "birthday" bear cakes for snack in honor of your birthday. We hope you enjoy your day as much as Calvin enjoyed his cake! We love you and happy birthday!

Friday, January 29, 2010

My Explorer

Marvin's so excited about hiking and exploring areas of Nineveh he hasn't explored yet. He's really loved exploring the edges of Nineveh the last couple of weeks. We are so thankful to be in our current location as it's right on the edge of town. This morning he went on a 2 hour hike and found the perfect little meadow. And it was a beautiful morning too, Blue sky and we actually saw the sun! (Not too many of those days here during the winter.)

The trees have been beautiful lately.

He's itchin' to hike up these. Did I mention he wants to climb the highest mountain in our area this summer?
And while he was there he also saw this....

So fun a bunch of horses made their way to a hay stack to eat.

It will be fun to hike this come summer as a family, however it may take us a little bit longer.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I can see why they are called Magic Bars

Calvin and I had fun in the kitchen this week together making Magic Cookies. He was so excited to tell Daddy what we made when Marvin got home. He was so excited in fact, that he just couldn't get what he wanted to say out of his mouth fast enough.
This is the perfect recipe for a little helper. I only needed to help with a few parts of the recipe, like chopping up the chocolate choloate bar, but those of you who live in the land of chocolate chips don't have to do that. If you like chocolate and coconut these are sure to be a winner. I love finding recipes that are helper friendly. I'm thinking this one will stay in our recipe box for years to come.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

cooking up some snow

Friday it kept snowing and snowing and snowing and although we've been enjoying the beauty of it all it's caused a few problems. Power outages and water outages throughout our city. Thankfully we still have power, only lost it for a few hours yesterday but our water has been non existent for over a day now, and there's no telling when it will be back on. So us being ever so prepared we had 5 liter of water in our apartment, that's it. Now we typically use 5 liters for drinking everyday. Yikes, so we've been choosing our beverage wisely.

But thankfully we have a lot of snow!!! So today we got our buckets out and hauled buckets of snow up 4 flights of stairs to our apartment, and melted it in a big pot on the stove, so we can do some necessary things like, flush. It's fun to see how He provides for our every need, even when we aren't too smart and prepare for stuff like this.

Snow gathering round 1

We even had some fun playing in the snow indoors. Calvin thought that was pretty cool, and it left some water on the table so we could give it a good wipe down.

Now let's talk heat shall we. Our heat is run by hot water, so no water, no heat. However someone is making it possible to heat a room in our apartment at a time, (we have no clue how, but at least one battery is hot at a time) if we get desperate we'll just turn on our oven. Thank goodness for a small apartment.

So we've been warm all day, had enough leftovers the last two days not to have to prepare a thing and had already planned on going out for dinner tonight. He's good, isn't he?

And even more good news, I just heard the water flowing again, it's only the cold water, but we'll take it. Now it's time for my Bath in a Bowl (boil some water on the stove, pour it in a big tub and add some cold water). What an answer to our prayers.

Blank Canvas

We are beginning to think through ways to spruce up our apartment. People tend to decorate here by hanging carpets on the wall, I'm compromising in our living room and when we leave for a visa run next month we're hoping to find a beautiful wall hanging at the Grand Bazaar. But I'm hoping to do something less local in our room, because who's gonna see it but us?

There's not much here in the form of framed art that isn't crazy pricey. So we're wanting to do a few DIY projects that make our house seem more like us. But I'm completely clueless of what to do.

Here's what our room looks like right now

Along the side of our room we have our dryer, our expandable clothes line. Usually this is full of laundry but since we haven't had water in over a day, there isn't any laundry that can be washed. So what would you do in this space?
The other wall is pretty much blank other than the ironing board, which may or may not stay in our room. We can get wood, blank painting canvases and some frames and paint. And everything must go with our duvet. And we can't change the wall color. We are hoping to buy some new window treatments through.

Here are a few ideas that I've seen that I love:

Thanks for the help!


Friday, January 22, 2010

Time to rearrange

When Calvin can't get it together we often send him to his room to regroup. This also means the light stays off. Well I was quite surprised the other day when I opened the door and found the light on and him playing. The little stinker figured out that if he brought a cushion over from his bed and stacked it on top of pillows he could reach the light switch. So we moved the bed and actually like this set up better.

"Snow" Much Fun Day

Today has been a fun day. We don't have language on Fridays and I'm hoping to use the time to get out with Calvin. Today it was snowing giant snowflakes in our part of the world, so we headed to a grocery store in town that has an indoor play place. Such a blessing!!! When we arrived no one was there so we did our shopping and went up stairs where Calvin drank his juice box. (Maybe we should not have started this little thing, but Calvin gets a juice box every time he comes with us to the store, it helps motivate him to walk faster to the store. Plus I found a brand here doesn't have any sugar added, so it's a better alternative to candy or cookies.)

So let me bring my sheep back, as they say here when you digress, after the juice box was inhaled we checked out the play place again and hooray the lady was there. She was super sweet, has two kids, and told me all about a foreigner in town who speaks the local language well. I had to laugh because I know this foreigner well. Calvin had fun playing in a different place and then we headed home to eat lunch. Calvin walks slow so we missed the first couple mini bus that came our way, so we had to wait several minutes for another one to come along. Calvin caught a snowflake in his mouth quite by accident and thought it was such a clever game that it occupied us while we waited. He was squealing and laughing, it was so much fun. Then about two minutes after we got on the little bus he was out. There must be something comforting to him about public transportation because it lulls him to sleep almost every time. Maybe it was all that riding around he did in my belly here.

We've had fun reading lots of books today and now he's pretending he's taking Marvin's nose. Love it. He's a lot of fun these days.It's been a while since I've done a developmental update so I thought I'd give a good snapshot of where he's at right now.

He's moved on from saying "where'd it go?" a million times a day to "what's her/his/that name." He often wants to pray for Baby, Abby & Audra and of course Aunt Nat. He loves playing hide, but is very bad at actually hiding. I love hearing his giggles as you try to find him and he'll usually tell you "right here Mama". You'll often find him marching around our living room singing "All for the love of a bear" , a song off of his favorite Winnie the Pooh Movie.

He's weighing in these days just under 28lb. Can devour a piece of fruit in no time flat, still doesn't care for potatoes, broccoli, or green beans. In fact during dinner tonight he had to eat a piece of potato and he gagged it down, quite literally. He knows what candy is, thanks to Grandpa T and our office manager. There's no sneaking a piece around him now, because we usually hear "pees key peease" which means a piece of candy please, bummer my sugar cravings have to wait till nap time.

He loves to count, usually it goes like this 2, 9, 2, 9. Although when prompted can count to 4 correctly. He still loves puzzles and can even master 24 piece puzzles, w/and without frames. He loves tools and every time Daddy gets a hammer or screwdriver he must help too. He still loves blocks, but we need to buy a few more to make it a little bit more fun.

He loves "hot baths" and begs to take them. Loves to brush his teeth, but hates it when we do it. He's pretending more and more and loves to make us "hot tea" to drink. He gives the best hugs these days and is actually giving real kisses. He's made a little progress in the toilet training department and will usually go when he tries but just haven't gotten into a good routine yet to really go strong with the potty training. He's a little afraid of walking past our trash dumpsters, but I don't blame him.

He usually runs or jumps everywhere he goes and loves to wrestle with his daddy. He can climb with the best of them and can often figure out a way to get to things out of reach.
So there you go that's our lil' guy right now. Very thankful for him.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

please, please, please, stay outside

First ignore our messy balcony, we were using it as a place to sort through things for our new teammates. Now it looks better, (although I do still have some trash out there that needs to be taken outside in the morning.)

What is it about birds? Why do they always have to come inside? After a very traumatic bird incident a few years ago I'm a little freaked out when they are inside. I was hanging up laundry to dry the other morning and I heard a tweet, tweet every now and then. I ignored it until I went back in to the kitchen and noticed a bird trying to escape. It had flown in through our fan and couldn't figure a way out. Poor thing kept smashing into the window.

So after calling Marvin I tried to pump myself up enough to enter the balcony. I did what any girl would do I grabbed a pillow case and a mop and headed in. I pulled up a chair for Calvin to watch and gave him strict orders not to open the door. I lasted about 5 seconds on the balcony, of course I was screaming and waving the pillow case around the entire time, didn't quite get to opening the window because I had a bird flying around my head. I tried again, and again and still no luck. Then I spotted my language teacher and relief was on the way. I waited till she got there and she laughed because she remembered the my infamous bird incidence. Together we cornered the bird, and by together I mean she. I held up the curtain to trap it and she opened the window, after that it quickly flew out. Now what is it going to be like come spring when the windows are always opening????? I don't even want to go there.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

First Class Mail

We received our first piece of mail here!!! Calvin received a Christmas card from his Grandma S. He loves it and often has hands it to me and says, "Mama read this". Thank you so much for brightening Calvin's day.
And Grandma T, this is Calvin's favorite shirt. If he even sees it he HAS to wear it or else a full blown tantrum follows. Sometimes I conveintly don't wash it, just so he can wear something else. Please tell me someone else does this too?

still can't believe it

Our trip last week to IKEA also included a trip to a big french supermarket where we picked up some "essentials" like peanut butter, tortilla chips & bacon. But we also went into a craft store, yes I just said a craft store and it was a REAL CRAFT STORE. My heart was so excited!!!! During our thinning of our suitcases I had to take out a lot of my craft supplies. So you can imagine how excited I was to see this store. I nearly fainted when I found chalkboard spray paint. SERIOUSLY! I felt like jumping up and down because I have been searching for chalkboards everywhere to make a menu board for our kitchen, now that problem is solved. Marvin just has to buy me a piece of wood big enough and my menu board will be ready.

They also had scrapbook paper, seriously people I thought I was in America. My last favorite find of the day was a cutting mat. Mine didn't make it in our suitcase, because I left it at my parents house, oops I was was so bummed because I used it all the time. This one is 1/4th the size of the one I have in the states but it works and just thrilled my heart. What a gift these silly things can be.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Yummy Yummy!

We did something that I said I'd never do as a parent....... Let Calvin watch The Wiggles and we hear this about a million times a day now: "Mama I otch um-ee um-ee." (Translation, Mama I want to watch, Yummy Yummy.) His poor nanny gets to suffer through it during my language class, poor girl she must think us American have some pretty weird shows. (And no we did not buy this DVD but it was given to us by our sweet friends whose kids outgrew it, Calvin loves it guys.)
But seriously on to something DELICIOUS & FUN. I saw these a few weeks ago on a blog which I immediately fell in love with and have been dying to try Hot Chocolate on a Stick since. Partly because it sounded fun but mostly because we could get all the ingredients here! And such a clever gift idea.

They were a cinch to make too.

Scald some milk, drop in hot chocolate and stir away.

Creamy, YUMMY, Hot Chocolate!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Quick Road Trip

Our colleagues needed to buy a vehicle in a city about 6 hours away, so we tagged along to see some good friends and we also convinced them that we needed to go here:

Last night it looked like IKEA exploded in our living room. It was amazing how much we came home with and how much cheaper everything was compared to here and they had things we actually liked rather than could just live with. I will be honest I had so much fun picking out things for our apartment at a beautiful store. I could have easily bought several more things, but space limited what we could buy, only the necessities like towels, dishes, pots and pans. But I did make it home with a few extras.
Marvin also picked up some hiking gear he's been wanting to get. It's so fun to see him get excited about hiking. It's something he's always wanted to do, just never had the right group of guys around to do it. He's enjoyed have the opportunity to learn how to repel and has gone on one hike since we've been here. I'm very excited for him to have this opportunity.
Last night after we got home and put Calvin to bed, we both played with our new things. I unpacked all my IKEA things and got started washing them (before the hot water was turned off for the night) and Marvin tried on his new shoes and inspected all his new gizmos. It was a fun trip and we even enjoyed several Western meals. Our sweet, sweet friends kept Calvin all day long while we shopped. They tired him out well and he had so much fun. When we went to pick him up he was just dancing his little heart out. We have such a great family here. Love them!
And of course we stopped here each way. The perfect place to let kids release some energy. Thankful for the few places like these and the awesome pizza.

Monday, January 11, 2010

the frugal part of me was jumping with joy!

So Calvin needed a good pair of shoes to survive the slush, snow and puddles here. Before Christmas I shopped around a bit, but was still confused on his shoe size (his foot just will not stop growing these days). After comparing prices (and figuring out his size) I was set on getting him a pair at the market because they looked like the same shoe only much much cheaper than any of the shops I had visited.

Friday Calvin and I headed to the biggest grocery store in town and I decided to check the toy store in the building to see if they had any shoes, low and behold I found shoes and even a great sale, 50% off!!! I could not believe it, they were the same price as I would have paid at the market. I was so thankful for this little find because it meant I didn't have to take him to the market, take his shoe off in the cold and make sure he stayed on a piece of cardboard while he tried them on. It was a much better buying experience.

P.S. I desperately miss coupons, still can't believe how much we spend on food each week. I'm sure I'll get used to it, but it's gonna take some time.

6 Lessons learned this week

1. When the phone rings while your little guy is on the potty, don't answer it, especially if you don't have a cordless. You'll more than likely end up cleaning up a puddle.

2. This language is going to be Impossible to master, but I'll try my hardest.

3. English is much easier. No changing the ending of nouns, adjectives, direct objects, indirect objects, possessive pronouns, pronouns........ Seriously my brain hurts just trying to get everything straight.

4. Never, EVER give your child full strength OJ. Calvin was seriously bouncing off our friends couch. (Oh and we didn't have too much of a choice on the juice thing, we were invited to our friends house for a big meal and that's the only suitable beverage choice for him and it gave him something to do during all those toasts.

5. It's possible to be so frustrated at your child one minute and just love him like nothing else the next.

6. Well this isn't really something I learned I just enjoyed this post on one of my Favorite Blogs. (So you know I can completely identify with this, even though Calvin's only two. He was licking the chairs in the kitchen the other day, had to get a good lick of each of them. I just don't understand?)

Saturday, January 09, 2010

You All are just "Souper"

Thanks so much for all the great lunch ideas, most of them I can make here fairly easily. As I was chopping veggies for soup tomorrow I had to stop, snap a picture and make sure you all knew how thankful I am for your suggestions.

Many of you suggested soup and it sounds like a great easy lunch and I'm hoping to incorporate that at least two or three lunches a week. I'd love any of your favorite soup recipes if you have them (or links to your favorite recipes).

And I'm sooooooooooooooo glad I brought my knives with me. It makes a huge difference cutting the giant carrots here with good knife. I already chopped all the massive carrots before I thought to take some pictures, that will be for another day.

Thanks Again!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

What has 2 eyes and a nose?

Only a mama with a background in early childhood would get excited about this but I was tickled to death when I walked into the kitchen today and discovered Calvin's most recent art skills. 2 eyes and a nose inside a circle! He's been drawing lots of eyes and noses lately as well as circles but hasn't put them together until today. So proud.

For "Abby" Audra & Baby Leah

Thank you for thinking of me. I have been very warm here, even when I play in the snow! Mom and Dad still need to buy me some good snow boots but they told me they will take me to the market on Saturday to buy some. I enjoyed seeing you on the computer and hope to see you very soon.

Lots of Love from your Cousin,

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Desperately Seeking Lunch Ideas??

We started language (insert applause)!!! So far our schedule goes something like this, my 2 hour language lesson, short lunch break, then Marvin's 2 hour language lesson. All of this happens in our kitchen because our living room doesn't have a door we can close.

So we have a short time frame to prepare lunch, eat it and clean it up, it's less than an hour, and Calvin usually takes a minimum of 20 minutes to eat lunch. (Our teacher will eat with us too.) I've come up with a short list of easy lunches that we can throw together:

-Lavash Pizzas
-grilled cheese
-scrambled eggs
-Stir Fry
-Rice & Beans
-Ramen Noodles
-Leftover meals, if we have enough for all of us
-Regular sandwiches (but the sliced meat is pretty pricey and so is PB, so this won't be a regular meal, maybe a once a month thing.)

Do you have any other ideas that are quick and easy and call for basic ingredients? Think raw ingredients, we can't get many prepackaged things here, so for example any recipes that call for cream of "whatever" soup I have to make a white sauce and turn it into the cream of "whatever" soup the recipe calls for, it's not hard just takes added time. At the moment we also do not have a microwave, so everything must be heated up on the stove top or in the oven.

Oh and our freezer is about the size of a microwave and it's usually full, so i can't really freeze a bunch of stuff and store it. I'm hoping to have stuff made ready throw together for lunches each day.

Thanks for the help WFMW and friends!

Friday, January 01, 2010

This is how You do it

Thought we'd show you how to properly ring in a New Year. We love this holiday here, it's crazy loud at midnight. Imagine the 4th of July but everyone in town is shooting off fireworks at the same time. It's awesome, sort of sounds like a war zone. To make it even better we had a clear night and could even see the mountains from our colleagues house. Now the fun doesn't end at midnight. People here celebrate with a huge meal and then carry on the fireworks long into the night. (We however went to bed.) Calvin woke up around 3:00 a.m. and there were still people shooting off fireworks, and other things too, but we won't go there. Glad we were safe at home. When we woke up this morning Marvin pointed out a guy passed out on the sidewalk in front of our building. Guess he didn't make it home, maybe he was close?

Oh and are we bad parents for letting our 2 year old stay up till midnight? I guess we're just being cultural. He enjoyed all but the fireworks, he has a healthy respect for exploding objects still. Know that won't last long.

Happy 2010!