Thursday, December 31, 2009

A fall wonderland

We spent one night at a hotel in the mountains the day after Christmas. Our friends wanted to ski, and we were along for the company and the getaway. There wasn't enough snow to ski, and I don't know why anyone was surprised since it hasn't rained much or even been that cold. It still feels more like fall where we live than winter. Sure there is snow in the mountains, but I walked around in it without a jacket on for awhile because it was so nice outside. Joshua was eager to crawl in the snow when he saw it. He doesn't have waterproof clothing, so we just put him on a flat rock. Sure enough, as soon as he tried to put his hands out to crawl, he realized he didn't really want to do that. He did, however, really enjoy sledding with David.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Are you in there?

One of Joshua's favorite daily distractions is our back balcony. He loves to watch the chickens and crawl around. He also recently realized that he could find me in the kitchen through the window. According to David, Joshua probably thinks that I "live" in there. It might be true because he looks for me through the window even when I am not in the kitchen. He doesn't believe that I am not in there until he sees me pop my head out of the door of our bedroom.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Daddy knows best!

We debated a lot about how to do Christmas this year given our plans for the coming months. We decided that even though we only have a few months, it would be worth it to invest in some toys for Joshua to enjoy during those months. David found a "push-toy" for Joshua, and I thought it was a little expensive for right now. We went ahead and got it, and I am certainly glad that we did! Joshua got a few things, and he plays with all of them, but he has not touched much of anything since he "opened" his push-toy. The only problem is that he goes from one end of the house to the other end of the house and then fusses because he has not quite figured out steering.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sweep it under the rug

If you know much about David, you know we have lots of blank cds and dvds lying around. We also have lots of homemade mix cds strewn about. Joshua has taken an interest in these shiny discs, and his current favorite game is to slide them under our rugs. We have all tile floors, so we have area rugs in every room. You walk across the threshold to the area between the two bedrooms, and you feel some lumps under the carpet, courtesy of our son. He also enjoys pushing the laundry basket around these days. This morning, I rolled up the rug in the entryway so he could roam freely, and I found no less than 10 cds and a couple of plastic covers hiding beneath it! Who knows what we will find when we completely pull up all of the carpets!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

First Haircut!

We finally broke down and cut Joshua's hair about 3 weeks ago. I am just now mentioning it, and there are no accompanying pictures because it was not a tremendous experience... on several levels! I thought it would be great to cut his hair in the bathtubso that we could clean up the mess easier, his hair would already be wet, and he could happily play with his toys as usual. Well, it was a nice thought! Joshua was interested in the scissors when we first brought them out, but he was terrified of the "snipping" sound in his ear. An inexperienced Mom plus a screaming 14 month-old does NOT equal a nice haircut! I pretty much butchered his sweet little curls and still regret it! David tried to correct it a little the next day, and it was an improvement, but I think we would both say the haircut was premature. Now we can only hope that those precious curls will grow back!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Disasters in the kitchen: parts 1 & 2

And I REALLY hope there is no part 3!! I wasn't even going to mention my disaster a couple of days ago because, well, I am very pregnant, very tired, and apparently very emotional... and I didn't think I was ready to laugh about it yet... or for quite awhile. However, when I had another disaster just two days later, I really had no choice but to go insane or laugh; and I am sure David and Joshua are glad that I decided to attempt the laughter.

Part 1: We have had a difficult month for electricity and a difficult week for household maintenance. Monday we had our sink repaired because the pipe just kind of came off the sink. The plumber also helped us clean out our sobia pipes... which means that I spent Tuesday morning pushing soot around on the balcony for quite some time. Tuesday night, I prepared dinner and put it in the oven. To make a long story short, the food just wasn't cooking. We ended up throwing it all away. I was kind of traumatized... pretty dramatic, but I was so sad that we weren't eating a decent meal despite my time and effort... and that we were wasting so much food!! (And, I have to admit, this prego tummy was looking forward to eating that particular meal, and nothing really sounded good after I smelled it cooking!)

Part 2: I started to make chicken and biscuits for dinner. First, I didn't cut the chicken the right way to make little biscuit sandwiches. No worries, my sweet husband assured me, he didn't want to make sandwiches anyway. I put the chicken in the oven, set about making biscuits, and got them in the oven. Timers are set, running a little late, but not too late to sit down with Joshua. 10 minutes later, I check the oven. Gas appliances are finicky, and I usually have to adjust the temperature several times. I thought, "Huh, those biscuits look kind of funny. I must have put in a little too mich butter. Well, maybe, but the problem was that the oven was not on. I mean, it HAD been on, but the gas bottle had "expired." We scrambled around a bit, and David changed the gas bottle in time to salvage the meal. We ate our chicken and biscuits in shifts when they were done; the chicken was a little less crispy and the biscuits were more like pancakes that we ate with a fork. It felt a little more victorious than dumping a roasting pan full of chicken into the trashcan!

Nesting... of a different variety

I am two weeks away from a full-term pregnancy! This reality has truly been hitting me over the past week or so, and I have officially gone into "nesting mode." The trouble is, how do you nest in a home you will keep for only a few more months? When you don't want to buy anything extra because you already don't know how you are going to pack what you already have? The first thing I did was make lists. It is a small thing, but it helped me feel more prepared. Today we got down all of Baby Sister's new clothes so that we could wash them. It might seem a bit early since the due date is a month away, but it has been taking a day or more to get a load of laundry done with our electricity cuts lately! The picture is of Joshua helping me sort colors to wash clothes. As I prepare to sleep tonight, we have diapers about the size of my hand and one load of almost-dry preciously petite pink clothes, and I feel like I can say we are ready enough for Little Sister whenever she decides to join us! (And please, Baby Girl, don't wait until you are too big to wear those itty bitty diapers and newborn-sized clothes!)

One more minute!

Joshua loves bath time. Even when it is 60 or below in the house, and David and I would love to avoid even changing clothes, Joshua is happy to play in the water. He usually throws a small fit when it is time to get out. A couple of weeks ago, I started giving him a one minute warning. It seemed to help him be calm about ending the bath, although I am not sure how he understood! When David started giving him the warning, he showed him "one" with his finger. Now, when we say "One more minute!" Joshua holds up his finger to acknowledge it. It is so fun to watch him learn to interact in different ways!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Kitchen help

'Tis the season to be in the kitchen, if you ask me. Joshua used to play happily in the kitchen while I cooked or baked, but he recently realized that some interesting things are happening above his eye level. As I stand at the counter, he hangs on my pant leg or pulls on the counter to his tiptoes in a desperate effort to witness these exciting events. It doesn't take long before he grows impatient and simply whines. One of my new strategies is to do what I can on the floor so that he can watch. Joshua does pretty well with keeping his hands to himself because he is so happy to be able to see what I am doing.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The games Mommy won't play

This afternoon we visited our friends. There were several children around, and that usually means that Joshua is pretty happy. He crawled around, shared our refreshments, and was playing with my gum container. It is a small canister that I really bought more because he likes to shake it than because I enjoy the gum. At some point, Joshua ended up on the couch with two children in his face... not my favorite during flu season, but at least I got the young girl to stop putting her fingers in his mouth! Anyway, Joshua started the "dropping" game. You all must know it well... he drops his toy, and someone is supposed to pick it up...over and over and over again. Well, Mommy is not a fun playmate during this game because she doesn't play very well for very long. These two kids, much to Joshua's delight, thought it was so fun to continue retrieving his gum container and returning it to him.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The things we learn...

One of Joshua's "things" right now is to roam around the house wearing gloves. These are gloves that were a random gift last year, actually. They are not particularly attractive, and he can never sit still long enough for me to put them on his hands properly. However, if he sees them, he MUST have them on! Nevermind the fact that they make crawling a little more difficult and slippery! Today Joshua was experimenting with his gloves and learning that his claps don't sound the same with them. David killed a mosquito the other night, and since then, Joshua will randomly clap once because well, that is what Daddy did!

Another thing Joshua has been figuring out is that he can't clap while holding things. Last night, he was tossing a tennis ball around, and he kept trying to clap as he threw it. This morning, he wanted to clap to the beat he was making as he banged together metal measuring cups, but somehow the measuring cups kept falling out of his hands as he clapped. Go figure! I have to admit, I prefer the sound of clapping to clanging metal!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A new pastime

We have two wonderful balconies; a long one on each side of the apartment. We haven't used them a lot over the past months, and I have neglected them badly. It is the time of year where we set up our sobias (gas heaters), which we had stored outside. Anyway, I decided I was going to get out there and clean up. The dilemma was how to go about this task with Joshua roaming around. I have been realizing that I am just going to have to let him get dirty. Many of you will probably laugh and think, "Well, hello! He is a little boy!" But really, it has been a big step for me! Over the weekend, I cleaned the filth outside and let Joshua "help" me while I wiped down gas cans. (Don't worry, I didn't let him touch the gas!) He discovered the chickens behind our house, and he has decided that it is pretty fun to go in and out of the door that leads to the balcony. So his new pastime is chicken watching, and he will stand on his tiptoes peering over the concret wall as long as I will allow him to do so... and he might sample a little bird poop if I am not paying attention. I am thankful for this new diversion (minus the bird poop)... at least while it is pleasant enough outside to take advantage of it!

Friday, November 20, 2009


I imagine any Mom can hear the way that word is pronounced. Joshua has entered a new phase where he is much more aware of all things that he wants and doesn't want. This is fun when it is positive, like when he expresses himself through laughter or playing games with us. Unfortunately, if more often comes out in a screech of a whine when he wants something and doesn't know how to tell us that he wants it. This is only the beginning of the fun stage where he will no doubt assert his will at every opportunity, and we will spend much of our time reigning it in for now! (Pictures: Joshua gleefully re-organizing Daddy's sock drawer; Joshua helping Daddy fix Mommy's suitcase.)

Monday, November 16, 2009

The stories Daddy didn't tell...

While I was gone, David put little daily updates on facebook. I couldn't see facebook from the hotel, so I enjoyed reading them and looking at pictures when I got home. He kept a terrific chronicle of the week for me, but there were a couple of pictures that required further explanation. The one I am including in this post shows what Joshua was able to accomplish in a few brief moments of being alone in the living room. I imagine you can guess why the bidet no longer has a plug in it or a knob to make the plug function... David went into the bathroom and found the plug in the toilet! I think we have a mischievous boy on our hands!

A new day = a new game

I was amazed when I returned from Thailand how many little ways Joshua would change in a short week! He has a couple of new games he enjoys playing, and he is much more expressive verbally. For example, his owl hoot has turned into more of a "whoa!" or "wow!" He frequently requests a song by putting his hands on his head. He specifically does it when he wants one of us to sing "Head, shoulders, knees and toes," but I think he is happy with most any music these days. Today at the grocery store, Joshua enjoyed dancing in the cart to some blaring Celine Dion.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Note to self: always be prepared

Within the States, it is relatively simple to figure things out with airlines. You simply go online and read, and you will know policies about liquids, carry-ons, luggage allowance, etc. Not so outside of the United States. Airlines, regions, and even individuals within a single airport vary in their preferences. One would think you could just read or call to get information, but after travelling in the last couple of months with a toddler, and infant (not mine), and a large pregnant belly, I am here to tell you that it just helps to expect for incredible inconvenience no matter what. If you have done much international travelling, you probably knew all of this already.

Last summer we went to Germany when I was 7 months pregnant, and no one even seemed to notice. This trip, I didn't even think about getting a doctor's note to travel because I had no use for it last summer. Big mistake. It wasn't a big deal on the way; I got some raised eyebrows and had to sign a liability form for one flight. I also had to put a pillow between my stomach and the seatbelt. I think it was supposed to protect the baby in case a suitcase flew out and hit me in the stomach... maybe they know something that I don't.

On the way back, however, I was escorted by a woman to visit the airport "hospital" where they expected me to pay for an examination that I knew I didn't need! They told me it was for my own security, and I assured them that I had seen my doctor the week before I travelled, and I felt very secure. Ultimately, I submitted to the examination, but I did not pay for it... the doctor determined that my temperature was normal, my blood pressure was normal, and I had a baby moving around in my stomach. Thanks for the helpful information!

Home again, home again!

Ok, I think I might be finished with these little breaks for awhile... at least until sweet little sister graces us with her presence! We have had a busy few weeks since we got back from the States. I just returned home from a week long women's conference in Thailand. It was a wonderful experience, but I am so glad to be back at home with David and Joshua! I have several little stories to share in the coming days about our travelling experiences. David and Joshua seemed to have a great week without Mommy, and Joshua wasn't even that impressed that I came home!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Stormy nights

We have had about three straight days of rain as of today. I think the sun has come out for an hour here and there, but it never lasts very long. I love the rain, and such an excess doesn't seem like excess after 6 months without seeing it!

Where we live, when it rains it is kind of like what happens in Houston when it snows. People don't seem to know what to do, and there are lots of technical difficulties. We had one hour of electricity on Sunday, and that was much more than what we heard some areas had!

David and I were remembering some of the hailstorms from last winter. We were always amazed at how Joshua slept through the deafening sound on the windows. I anticipate this year will be a bit different since he is older and more aware. Last night, we did not have hail, but the thunder was so loud that it startled me awake at least 3-4 times. I was sure I would hear a terrified scream coming from Joshua's room, and I would hardly have blamed him, but he never peeped!

One time I woke up to the sound of the bedroom door slamming shut. I opened it to see David holding on to Joshua's bedroom door. The wind blowing through our house was pretty forceful, apparently. David pushed our big gallons of water against the front door because it was rattling pretty loudly. We also soaked up water in our kitchen and in our bedroom; this is when we are most thankful for tile floors rather than permanent carpeting!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


We had no idea how travelling would go with Joshua, but we made it to the States and through the month of pretty nomadic itinerary with relative ease. Joshua hardly slept at all during the 27 hours we were in transit to Bellaire, but he was pretty charming for 99.9% of the time. He really never showed signs of jetlag. However, coming back east has been a different story. For the first couple of nights, it was literally as if he regressed to being 3 months old where he woke up 1-2 times a night. Now, we have had two nights of 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep... but only after play sessions that seemed never ending! He has woken up at a normal time for 2 days now, so I can only hope that he will start to get tired at a decent bedtime! I have never been too bothered by jetlag, but it is because I force myself awake at the appropriate time and do my best to avoid naps that kill! Joshua, on the other hand, looked at me like I was a dream that first morning when I tried to give him milk after waking him up. He just held it in his mouth and stared at me!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Back to blogging

Ok, I am taking the plunge. It is sort of like when you haven't run in awhile, and you just can't seem to get yourself out there. However, once you finally do, it isn't usually so bad. Sorry it has been so long since I have updated you all! So much has happened in our little world... we planned and took a trip to America and enjoyed seeing so many of you. We have been back in Lebanon for about 5 days now, and last night was Joshua's first good night of sleep. He is doing well, and we will go see baby sister today to check on her. I am just past the 6 month mark now, and it is going by pretty quickly so far. I will post more updates and pictures in the coming days.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New milestones every day

Well, we are nearly to Joshua's one year birthday, and I cannot believe how time has flown. Every day, there is something new in his little life! As of two days ago, we have officially retired our bottle collection. Perhaps I should say that we gave it a little break until baby sister is ready for that step. This feels like a huge deal to me, and I have to say that I am looking forward to starting the process again before too long. Remind me that I said that when Joshua is walking and I hardly slept the night before because of said sister.:-P Another noteworthy milestone is what I would call our first meaningful communication with Joshua. As he pushes and explores his boundaries as a little individual, we are learning daily. I have gotten so flustered at meal times that I understand the desire to teach babies sign language. I decided we will at least teach Joshua "more" and "all done" to avoid that nagging whine for more and the throwing of food to indicate the end of the meal. I haven't been very consistent with teaching, but yesterday Joshua reached his hand out each time he was ready for more cantaloupe. It isn't the "correct" sign, but it serves our purposes well!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Joshua and the print shop

There is a print shop that David likes to use, and he has recently taken Joshua along for the errand. I went with them today, and Joshua absolutely loved it! All of the employees love him as well, and they took turns passing him around and letting him explore things. He sat on the counter shaking a pen for quite some time before we had to leave. The employee wanted him to keep the pen. I, naturally, knew this was not an appropriate toy for an 11 month-old, so I tried to give it back. Well, Joshua did not like my opinion! He threw a fit, which is horrific in the eyes of the Lebanese people. Anything to stop the crying, in their perspective. I let Joshua carry the pen out to the car, and then he "had it out" when I took it from him there.:-)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Everybody is moving!

As of yesterday, Joshua is officially a forward mover. He has been sliding himself backwards for about a week now, and he has now mastered forward motion. At first, I don't think he realized what this would mean for his life. Yesterday, David had to put something very exciting on the floor in order to entice Joshua to crawl. He still seemed to prefer sitting still. Today, however, he has really embraced his newly found independence. He has approached the refrigerator, the DVD player, and the trashcan... and he has reminded my why my life was so much simpler when he relied on me to move! Sorry I don't have a picture to show, but I am camera-less. In other news, I can feel the little kicks of our baby girl, of course, only at night when I am getting ready to sleep! Sorry I don't have a picture to show, but I am cameraless.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Girl fever?

If there is such a thing, then I have it! A couple of days ago, I started thinking about the winter and about things we might need for our kiddos to be prepared... yes, come winter, we will have more than one star of this blog! It still seems surreal! However, as I looked at those preciously pink BabyGap First Favorites online, I just melted. And now, I am hooked. Maybe other Moms are different in this area, but one reason I am glad to have had a boy first is that I think EVERYTHING would have been pink if we had a girl first. I mean everything. We refrained from getting all things blue with Joshua, so we will be able to continue to use the main "equipment." Baby Girl Balch will, however, be wearing lots of pink and lots of dresses. (This coming from the Mom who rarely wears make-up and would live in running shoes if I could...)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Bonk, pause, and check

These days Joshua loves to put toys in and put toys on... whatever is around. I can put him next to the coffee table with his bucket of plastic shapes, and he will entertain himself for quite awhile by putting the shapes on the table, taking them off, and moving them around. Recently, a new little pattern of his has interfered with these moments of independent playtime. He wiggles himself along the carpet so that he is nearly underneath the coffee table. His head is right beside the table, so he bonks it. Then, Joshua takes a moment to think about what just happened and how he feels about it. After a brief pause, he looks around to see if anyone else witnessed this unfortunate event. Or is it so unfortunate? Apparently not; he proceeds to repeat the bonking!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

It's all about perspective

Last week, we were plagued with terrible electricity. I mean terrible. The worst it has been since we moved here by far. For about 6 days, we had 5-7 hours of power in every 24 hour period. That actually sounds like a lot when I phrase it that way, but trust me... it isn't. I may have mentioned our big battery that allows us to use lights. We kind of grew accustomed to saving the battery for the night, and I just accepted the fact that it would take 12 hours to finish a load of laundry. So day to day, it wasn't a huge deal... once we threw out all of our perishable refrigerated items that still seem to have left an aroma. As the weekend rolled around, I did realize that I was extremely mentally and emotionally exhausted. It is interesting how such things can have that kind of effect. And when Saturday came, and we had more than 2 consecutive daytime hours of electricity for the first time all week, I was elated. It was a rough week, but I am so much more thankful for the amount of electricity that we have each day. Sure, it isn't 24 hours, but I will take it joyfully!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

If you're happy and you know it...

Joshua figures out new ways to express his intense excitement every day. He has almost clapped many times, and he finally got it by himself yesterday. Joshua was so proud of this accomplishment that it really sent him over the edge with glee. He made the biggest, silliest smile, and he continued to clap his hands faster and harder. Sometimes he missed and hit himself in the face instead, but it didn't bother him in the least!

On you marks, get set... LUNGE!

Joshua isn't actually crawling yet, but that doesn't mean he can't get around! He ooches, scooches, twists, and leans... and now, he lunges. Thankfully, Joshua seems to understand the meanness of the tile floor; they have had several confrontations in the past. So he doesn't lunge unless one of us is sitting with him. As soon as I sit to play with him on the floor, he rocks up onto his knees and thrusts toward me as if he were jumping into my arms in the swimming pool. We think he feels pretty proud that he has figured out a way to reach us by himself. The only problem is, once he is sprawled against me, he is kind of stuck, and he doesn't really know where to go from there!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Our 4th member

We went to the doctor yesterday and found out that Joshua has a little sister! We are so excited! Everything looks great and healthy with our baby girl, and we are thankful. It is a blessing to get an ultrasound every month in this country. We are about 16 weeks into her little life, and we will continued to keep you updated! Thanks for the prayers!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Eating Antics

Joshua had some stomach trouble for a few weeks. I thought he was just turning into a picky eater, but I think he just didn't feel like eating. He has finally gotten better, and the past couple of days have been more normal in the eating department. Joshua has come into a new phase of exerting his will, so "normal" has gotten a bit more interesting. Yesterday, he discovered how fun it was to push his food out with his tongue. It wasn't that he didn't want to eat it; it just took my catching the food a few times and returning it to his mouth before he got tired of the ritual and swallowed. Anyway, I humored him for awhile, and then I realized that this would get pretty old if he thought it was acceptable behavior. I told him, "no," a couple of times, and he finally burst into a tantrum that would make you think he had seriously gotten hurt. These little outbursts have made me dread even more the process of discipline as our little guy expresses himself more every day!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Red, white, and blue

One of our most recent and decent family pictures. We took it on the Fourth of July. It may seem cheesy, but we had to do it because it is our one and only Fourth where we can be red, white, and blue as a family. We find out the gender of Baby Balch #2 in two weeks!

Our little ham at 10 months

We e-mail monthly pictures of Joshua to our family so that they can watch him grow from far away. I decided to share one of this month's pictures that has given all of us a good laugh. Joshua has always been a photogenic little guy. He simply sees the camera and smiles. I am not trying to be a braggy Mom, that is just the way he is. In the last couple of days, it seems Joshua has started to "try" to smile. The picture is an example of his goofy grin. We can add this to the list of things he will do "on command;" when I scrunch my nose at him he responds with this sweet little face... and we respond by laughing a lot, so he repeats. This picture was taken on day number 2 of antibiotics for tonsillitis... what a good sport! Check out those teeth in there!

Friday, July 17, 2009

My idea of vacation

I approached this summer thinking we weren't really going to have a vacation. It is true, if a vacation is leaving the country. However, we just finished a little stay in Beirut with David's sisters, and I realized that it was TOTALLY a vacation. I thought of the ways that, in 9 short months of being a Mom, my idea of vacation has changed a lot. I guess I should say being a Mom where we live. I have to qualify this list by saying that we have lots of friends that live in more difficult places than we do, but I am simply sharing from my new perspective. The things I enjoyed and appreciated most about our little getaway:
  • with few exceptions, 24 hour power... which means air conditioners the whole time you sleep, which means I did not wake up every 2 hours to feel how hot it was.
  • endless food options that did not require my cooking or washing dishes
  • lots of walking to get nearly anywhere you want to go
  • bagel with cream cheese for breakfast... yes, I really did order it at a coffee shop, and I definitely saved the cream cheese that squeezed off of my little sandwich. You wouldn't think it was gross if you didn't have the option to eat it all the time!
  • coffeeshops across the street from each other and on every corner... with American-style coffee! Not instant coffee, and not with powdered creamer...mmmmmmm
  • sitting at previously mentioned coffee shop for 2 hours with sisters-in-law while Joshua, David, and Andrew had a "guys' morning.":-)
  • bathing Joshua in a real bathtub; he LOVED it! We are going to have to figure something out at home because during his first bath at home, he successfully emptied a good portion of bath water on me as well as the kitchen floor
  • and finally, the indicator that I am, at heart, a city girl: I was relieved to hear construction and honking at all hours of the day and night rather than our neighbors, their roosters, their dogs, and their screaming kids at all hours of the day and night. I think I actually thought the village sounds were charming at first, but I guess that has worn off.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

More lessons learned

Two lessons I have learned in the past few days:
  1. When you take a baby to a restaurant, particularly one who has started throwing temper tantrums, it is helpful to have some toys that do not make a lot of noise when thrown on the ground. Good options are toys that are made of softer plastic with the exception of teething rings; they bounce and might end up underneath the table next to you.
  2. It never hurts to bring along preparations for the next bottle... we have bought 4 containers of formula in the last several days because I either just wasn't thinking or didn't anticipate being gone for the next feeding.

A very big day of firsts

David's sisters and brother-in-law have been visiting for the past week. We have been having a great time. Yesterday, we went on a day trip to some caves that David and I had never seen before. Thus began a long afternoon of fabulous firsts... although the rest of the things were firsts for Joshua. The list follows:
  1. first visit to a cave
  2. first time in a train
  3. first time in a boat
  4. first trip to a zoo (there were approximately 3 animals, but hey, it counts!)
  5. first attempt at drinking out of Mommy and Daddy's water bottle... he actually did pretty well, and he thought it was the best!

We will include some pictures later!

Saturday, July 4, 2009


There are a couple of ways that Joshua actively participates these days. I previously mentioned his love for coughing. He continues to respond with a cough if he hears anyone around cough. When he sneezes, he coughs several times in an attempt to duplicate the sound. A few days ago, when Joshua first attempted to crawl, we said, "Yay!" every time he pulled in his knees and pushed. After a few of these, he started responding with his version of the sound. It is more of a high-pitched shriek, but he definitely does it in response to our cheers!

Bottoms up!

It has been a long time since I last attempted to take a picture of Joshua while he was sleeping. Joshua now wakes up in a different place every time he sleeps. I rarely find him sleeping at the end of a nap these days because he is content to explore for quite some time before he makes noises. The other day I went to check on him, and I couldn't resist taking a picture. He didn't even wake up with the flash or the beep of the camera. Now, I have to point out that it is between 80 and 90 degrees in our house these days, and when there is now power, I just lay there and try to fall asleep without touching anything. Joshua, on the other hand, likes to curl into a ball, stick his rear into the air, and get as cozy with the side of the crib as possible. It is no wonder that he usually has a ring of sweat around him when he wakes up!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Making Moves

Joshua has just started to express an interest in moving from one place to another. Our little pillow potato has realized that there is more to life than lounging around. He prefers to play laying on his back since he can roll around as much as he wants. Yesterday, he continued to roll over like a log until he reached the edge of the bed. I fear our days of playing unattended are over! Along with rolling over and over again, he is attempting to crawl. I am not quite sure what inspired this sudden change in him, but Joshua now pushes back and forth on his knees. Always something new and exciting!

Monday, June 29, 2009

All fun and games

Joshua has been learning and teaching us all kinds of new games. One thing he loves is sitting on the bed with David or me and playing "Whispers." It is very simple. He leans forward, we whisper in his ear, and he thinks it is hilarious. He sits up, leans forward again, and we repeat. Another game he loves is when we put something on his head. He stays very still for a few moments and then leans slightly to the side to see it fall off of his head. Joshua enjoys "Out and In," where he takes things out of their container and puts them back in... over and over. Sometimes he enjoys passing the ball beack and forth, but usually he prefers to shove it in his mouth.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pillow Potato

Joshua is a very strong sitter these days. He leans around to reach for things, and he rarely falls over. However, since we have a VERY hard tile floor, we still often put pillows behind him just in case. Recently, he has learned about those pillows and realized that they are pretty nice. Now, when I put a pillow behind him, he almost immediately falls backward so that he can lay on it to relax while he plays.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My turn!

Our little vaccuum cleaner has become quite the picky eater. He has reached the point where he refuses to try any food that I offer him. We have been troubleshooting to figure out what he wants. Sometimes it helps for him to hold a spoon while he eats. At other times, it seems like the spoon is the thing that bothers him, so we go with finger foods. What seems to be constant is that we are in a new phase of learning to self-feed, and meals are much longer and much messier affairs... time to lay down the trash bags!

Lesson learned

Today I got Joshua after his nap, gave him his bottle, and changed his diaper as usual. I thought we should sit out on the balcony and play in his new little "pool," which is actually more like an inflatable bathtub with Mickey Mouse on the floor. I didn't want to waste a diaper while I prepared the pool, so I just put on his little swim diaper. I figured he might "use" it a little before he got into the pool, but it would only take me a few minutes. I picked him up only to find that his seat was wet, as was the sweet little lamb rug underneath him. I must confess, I put him on it knowing I could toss it in the washing machine, but I hardly imagined I would need to do so! So the lesson that I learned is that a swim diaper is not sufficient when not in the pool... which makes me wonder how much good it actually does inside the pool!

Friday, June 12, 2009


Joshua has been delightful... and delighted over the past few days. He wakes up from naps kicking, laughing, and grinning. He gets so excited when he sees David or me, and "peek-a-boo" just sends him over the edge. I don't think any sound can compare to the sound of his laugh!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


I mentioned before that Joshua seems to discover one thing and then practice it over and over for about a week. Then it is almost as if he forgets it for awhile. He has done this with "DADADA" and other syllables. His latest verbal, or perhaps I should say oral game is coughing. He will sneeze or cough and then continue to repeat the cough about 20 times in a couple of minutes. It is that pitiful I-am-not-sick-but-doesn't-it-sound-like-I-am attempt that a child might use to stay home from school. It is pretty funny. We think he tries to sneeze on purpose and the cough is what comes out. Then, since we are all laughing at him, he decides he should keep going! He is also into a "semi-razzing phase." He makes a funny noise, puffs up his lips, and somehow ends up with slobber all over his chin. Quite charming!:-)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The sounds of silence

Some days, when the power is off, I notice how peaceful and still it is. There is no refrigerator whirring, no washing machine draining, and somehow less traffic outside. There are no power tools drilling into my brain, and no air conditioners running. It is a really strange sound that you really never hear at home.

There are other days when the sounds of silence include banging on metal and groups of children shrieking as they run around. The sound of lots of street noise like huge truck engines and honking combined with roosters crowing and dogs barking make me wonder what happened to the peacefulness. Somehow, right when Joshua goes to sleep at night, the babies start to cry and women chatter excitedly outside his window.

Here, they don't like the sun at all. I really think the noise level adjusts with the height of the sun. If I walk with Joshua between the hours of 8 and 6, I am scolded. "The sun is too strong," they say. Everyone stays inside if at all possible until sunset, and then the community comes alive.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Teething Biscuit Police

We recently found teething biscuits here and thought we should let Joshua try them. He seemed pretty puzzled the first time I handed one to him. He looked at it, looked at me, and dropped it. After repeating this a couple of times, Joshua began to put the biscuit in his mouth. After a few attempts, he brokeoff more than half of the biscuit in his mouth. I literally had to pry his jaw apart to get it out. He was pretty mad. I now break the biscuit into little pieces and give them to him one by one. If I give him more than one at a time, he will not chew the pieces enough before trying to swallow them. I kind of think this is more work than it is worth! Who knew teething biscuits would be hazardous for teething infants?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A video game

I have been in the process of taking a plunge I never thought I would take here... driving. Sure, I drove in the States, everyone does... so you probably think it is weird that I have hardly driven at all in the year and several months that we have lived here. Well, ask anyone who has visited, and you will soon learn why.

Driving here feels like you are in a video game. It is like defensive driving in the States where you learn to anticipate what others are going to do... only there are no laws that would ideally govern what those others might do. I have now ventured out of our little tiny area just twice, and when I hit the highway, I have to fully expect the unimaginable. Cars and trucks driving straight at me against the flow of traffic, for example. When you encounter this, the one going the wrong way actually flashes their lights to tell you to move! People pulling out in front of me... I guess that happens everywhere, but usually the person pulling out receives a honk or two. Here it is just the way you drive. 5+ lanes of traffic where there are three painted lanes, motorcycles coming out of no where, traffic cops standing next to the one or two traffic lights to help people use them... the list goes on. Can you tell I am a rule-oriented person? It helps my sanity just to think it is a video game rather than real life.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Beach Take 2!

Yesterday we headed to the beach. If I have my way, we will go every weekend! There is not a lot to do here, and I think I have mentioned how much our little guy loves to get out and do things. This time, we were more prepared for our outing. David and I were dressed to sit in the sand with Joshua. It helped him play a lot more, but he still wanted absolutely nothing to do with the water. I think the waves are scary to him. However, I got my first "mothering a boy" lesson as I plopped him in the sand in his little white outfit and let him eat it from time to time. David's theory was that Joshua would take a taste and realize that it was gross. He may have thought it was gross, but that didn't keep him from checking it from time to time to see if it had gotten any better! If you think that sand gets everywhere when you go to the beach, try wearing a diaper. I am not sure how the diaper got filled with sand, but Joshua's carseat, crib, and changing table were sandy at the end of the day!

Friday, May 22, 2009

An election is coming up, so throw away your chicken!

No, this is not a language blunder. We have had incredibly poor electricity this week. This often happens when the weather is extreme as people are using more, and the fuel source runs low. However, the temperature has been moderate this week, so we couldn't figure out why we had day after day of difficulty. We heard they were fixing something nearby, so they had to mess with the electrical system. After the 3rd day in a row, I really wanted to know what was broken and how long it would take to fix it! Finally, David found out that they are doing something to prepare for elections that will take place in a couple of weeks. I can only hope that they will not be messing with our electricity for the entire time! I will say that I am thankful this happened in May rather than July or August. We simply opened the windows and enjoyed a cool breeze. On Friday, I finally had to clean out our refrigerator as our milk was sour and reading 60 degrees. David pointed out that it is probably only the Westerners who are having a hard time with this. People here buy the long life dairy products, and they are used to going days without power at times. Maybe some day I will adjust... although I will never be able to stomach the long life milk!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I'm mad!!

So, here is a picture of Joshua when he is throwing a temper tantrum. I guess one would usually just include happy pictures of babies, but since so many loved ones haven't ever met him, I thought you should see all of his wonderful faces.:-) This is what Joshua does when he does not want to sit by himself. It looks like he is in pain, but if I pick him up, it is remarkable how quickly he stops crying!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

First trip to the beach

Well, it seems summer hit us overnight. A couple of days ago, I was still wearing a fleece inside. The past couple of days have been in the 80s. The highlight of the weather change for me is that Joshua gets to wear cute summer things that he has never worn before, and we get to see his cute little legs and toes all day long.:-)

Yesterday we drove about 45 minutes so that Joshua could experience the beach. It isn't quite "ready" for the season; big vehicles were driving over the sand and it felt like a hiking experience to get to the water. I am sharing a picture so that you can see how he enjoyed it... or didn't! The water was definitely too cold for his taste, but we are working on it! (I tried to include a couple of pictures, but it was too hard for our internet connection.)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Getting creative

I realize I have slacked in sharing Joshua stories lately. I will try to do better because he is the highlight of this blog! He has two teeth now, so there has not been much to share as he has just been teething over the past couple of weeks. I have learned that he really likes to "go, go, go!" He is easily bored at home, so I try to be proactive in planning outings. It is a bit tricky since we have one car and there are not a lot of places I can easily reach on foot. I am trying to maximize use of the balconies these days. Joshua loves being outside. He loves to hear the sounds and see the trucks and cars go by. Last week I took him out on the balcony with the intention that we would just sit together. It was a particularly fussy time, but he seemed very happy. I decided to see if he would play a little bit. I didn't want to rock the boat by going inside to get toys, so I improvised. He played very happily with his socks and a piece of the bag from my pretzels. (It made a very entertaining crinkly sound.) There's nothing like new "toys" to explore!

The haircut

...also known as "the mistake every foreigner makes!" I think I mentioned that I got my hair cut. I have had one other haircut since we moved here. It was in the heat of the summer last year when I was 6 months pregnant. One night, I felt so hot that I strongly considered just whacking my hair off myself! I exercised a little self control and waited until ten o'clock the next morning. I knew it was risky getting a short haircut in a language I hardly knew, but I felt it was worth the risk! However, I was very pleasantly surprised... it was inexpensive and I was happy with it! Since then, nearly a year ago, I have been growing out that short haircut. I went to my neighbor and told her that I just wanted a trim. I tried to explain a lot more than I did last year. I came away looking like a shaggy dog. The obnoxious bangs I have been growing so that I don't have hair in my face... well, she understood and didn't cut them, but there is a lot more hair that is that length now! Anyway, the good news is that it still goes into my standard ponytail, so no one has to know. The funniest part is that my friend, also a foreigner, said the same thing happened to her. She learned that if you ask for "layers," the word translates to them as "steps." This explains why I have a mushroom on top of my head and a long tail of hair behind me. Ok, maybe it isn't quite that bad, but I learned something new!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


In a precious post, I told you about a nighttime visitor that we could only assume was a scorpion. After a couple of nights of checking every nook and cranny of the room before sleeping, we assumed it was gone. That was three weeks ago. This afternoon, I heard a noise that sounded like our neighbor was dumping water from her balcony. (This happens from time to time.) I went to check, but I couldn't see where the water was. I stopped as I walked past the wrapping paper we hid behind a door. (Classy, I know. Like everyone else in the world, I feel we have limited storage!) Anyway, what I originally thought was water outside sounded more like a bug fluttering in the wrapping paper. Can you tell where this is going?

I am not really a bug person. Actually, I get disgusted by things like roaches that can't even hurt me! So naturally, I called David. I didn't expect or want him to come home, I just needed some moral support. (At this point, as he said, it could easily have been a fly!) The power was out, so I couldn't see very well. I armed myself with a can of Raid and our trusty headlamp. Do you have a good picture of me? It only gets better. I carefully poked at a bag and then a roll of paper, knocking them over and waiting to see what happened. After the third or fourth attempt, I saw it. I shudder just to think of it! Again, I have to call David! I kept him on the phone until the ordeal was over. My biggest concern was that I couldn't shriek since Joshua was sleeping about 10 feet away. I darted into our room and put on the first shoes I could grab. Now I am sporting some dressy shoes with my sweatpants in addition to my headlamp... I ditched the can of Raid because apparently you have to squash scorpions to kill them.

I don't know if scorpions are normally slow, but I am thankful that this one didn't scurry around. I stomped and ground him into the carpet. Yes, I am going to have to scrub that later, but I wanted to make sure he was really, totally, and completely dead! I added elbow-length rubber gloves to my ensemble to get the scorpion off the floor using paper bags. Yes, I am a wimp...and I still haven't taken off my shoes!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Shoo Ismik?

"What's your name?" I find it funny how often people forget names here. It is somewhat surprising, but it is helpful for me to know that I don't have to feel guilty if I forget some of the difficult names I can hardly say correctly! Today I went to get my hair cut by our neighbor. I very intentionally said her name over and over after I met her recently, and I wrote it down when I got home because it is one of those difficult names. So I had to smile when she asked me at some point during my haircut, "Shoo ismik?" Some other friends of ours that we have known most of the time we have lived here forgot Joshua's name recently. As I write this, I think that perhaps it just goes two ways. Our names are strange and hard to remember for them, and theirs are for us. That is with the exception of the 3 names that are guaranteed to be in every family around here. David was with some friends, and they wanted to get someone's attention. One friend called out one of these names, and David thought he knew the guys. His friend said no, he didn't know them, but he knew one of them would respond to that name!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Scenes from our day trip to the cedars

Today we went to the cedars. It was my "Mother's Day, Take 2!" since we already celebrated in March here. Lucky me! Anyway, we like to go to the cedars from time to time because you can hike around a lot more than anywhere else in this country. It is beautiful, green, and colder than where we live due to elevation. Sorry, these scenes are not pictures. From time to time, we notice something and think, "Huh... you would never see that at home!" I wanted to share a couple of these images with you.
  • Driving along, we approach a vehicle going pretty slowly. We come up beside it and realize it is behind the actual problem. The delay is caused by a man who is in a little orange car towing his plow. The plow was dangling from a string that seemed to be tied onto the trunk. The car behind the plow stopped to wait while the driver turned the plow upright again on its tires so that he could continue.
  • Still driving, we make a tight turn on the mountain. A couple of cars shot around the U-turns making swerves and putting on some kind of show. We were thankful that we weren't hit! Perhaps in some parts of our country at home you would see such a display, but not with an audience dressed in traditional clothing. They were still there 3 hours later when we headed home, but David knew to honk a lot as we approached them.
  • We stop to buy some snacks on the way home. We have eaten at this little spot before. It added at least an hour to our trip, and we were ate at a plastic table in the owner's backyard while he cooked the food. David picked a few things, and since the owner didn't have change, he had David select an extra bag of chips. (When we shop for groceries, our change is usually in chewing gum that you would rarely want to chew!)

New fascinations every day

Joshua is aware of new things all the time these days. It is fun to see his eyes widen and watch him crane his nexk to see things that look interesting to him. His most recent fascinations are his hairbrush and the kitchen counter. I brush his hair each night after his bath. I am not sure why; it's not like there are tangles! Anyway, he recently noticed the brush, so now he turns his head the whole time I am brushing because he wants to see this incredible toy! He puts the bristles in his mouth once each night and then remembers that it wasn't so great the first time. We bathe Joshua in a little tub in the kitchen sink. A couple of nights ago, he realized that there is a counter between his bather and the bathtub. When he sees it now, he grabs onto it and tries to pick up this big bath toy!
The book in the picture is one a friend from Houston sent. It is perfect for Joshua because it has little tags made out of ribbon along each edge, and he loves to chew on the tags on all of his toys.

Monday, May 4, 2009


It means "fifty" in Arabic, and it refers to a drastic change in weather some time during the spring. I am not sure if you would call it a front or a dust storm or something else, but there is heavy wind from the east blowing through that carries so much dust that the cars turn yellow and it looks foggy outside. The days have typically been in the 70s at a maximum, but today it was 85 degrees at 10 am! That is not so hot for May when you live in Texas, but it is a big difference from what we have been experiencing this spring! I dressed poor Joshua in fleece pants and we were quickly peeling them off during Arabic class. Our Arabic teacher said the name "Fifty" means that this time will occur some time during the fifty days of spring.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

"Just like that"

Can you imagine never using a dryer? Some people wash clothes by hand here, and some have machines, but no one really has dryers. I was spending time with our neighbor upstairs, and she has a new dryer. I commented on it, and she said, "Yes, it is like what you have! It is wonderful, I just wash the clothes and put them in there, and just like that, the laundry is finished!" Since she said that, I have tried to imagine how much longer it would take to not use a dryer... not to mention that your clean laundry would always smell like outside!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


We had a group at our house this morning, and I had to share about our time. A year ago, there was typically one toddler with us. Now, we have a 2 1/2 year-old, a 7 month old baby, and a 3 month old baby. Things started smoothly as we gathered and chatted. Joshua was extra fussy as he has been lately, so I put him down for a nap as usual. No problem. A man rang our doorbell to measure our windows for screens, (yay!), so I showed him around the apartment. I was carrying the 3 month-old at this point. As our time progressed, the 3 month-old went down for a nap in our bedroom, and our landlord rang the doorbell to make sure the "screen man" had come. I showed him our water heater for the third time; he has been fixing it for 5 days now. His little girl wanted so badly to play in Joshua's room and didn't understand why she couldn't. 3 month-old is crying at this point, and our friends are carrying on in the living room. Potty training 2 1/2 year-old is whining and hollering about "Pee-pee!" and treats every 10 minutes or so. I could go on, but I think you get the picture. It was very lively and humorous.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

We have takeoff!

If you read the title, you might think Joshua is crawling. If you read the labels for this post, you might think Joshua learned to say something. Sorry, but neither one is correct! However, Joshua now has a tooth! Well, can you call it a tooth if you have to look really closely to see that it's there? Anyway, the Arabic word used for the eruption of a tooth is the same word they use for going up a flight of stairs as well as taking off in an airplane. Whenever we see friends these days, they ask if teeth have taken off.:-) This morning I put my finger on Joshua's gums to show my neighbor that nothing was happening... only to find that there is actually a reason Joshua cried all day yesterday. David suggested we take him out for pizza to celebrate.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Becoming a Gerber baby

People do things differently here; that pretty much goes without saying. It has been interesting to be a new Mom in a foreign country. There are things that I have had to do differently than I would at home simpy because I have no other option. Most things are available to us in some way at some point. We may have to drive an hour to get certain items or pay three times the amount they are worth, but we can get a good variety of things here. One thing we cannot have is baby cereal without sugar. Since I have never started a baby on cereal, I never thought about this before. The cereal that Joshua has been eating since he was four months old tastes like rice pudding. Yes, I have tried it, and it actually tastes good! My Mom and Gary sent some Gerber cereal when my Dad came, and I was anxious to see how Joshua would do without the sugar content of the stuff here. I figured it wouldn't be that big of a difference.

We are on day three of experiencing this new version of rice, and my son who eats everything has yet to finish a serving! I don't think it is that it tastes badly to him. I think he is just used to finishing the first bowl of broccoli or potato or whatever I give him and getting on to bowl #2... the good stuff! So naturally, when I gave him bland rice mush when he was expecting rice pudding, he protested. He was pretty tolerant at first, but after a few bites, he turned on his "green bean face." This is the face he makes when he doesn't like something. We are now working on tricking him by mixing some fruit with the rice, and little by little, cutting out the fruit. We shall see if he falls for it!

Friday, April 24, 2009

An afternoon visitor

Our water heater broke a couple of days ago. It gave me an opportunity to remember again some of the things that I love about living here. David went downstairs to ask about who we should call. Our landlord came up to check it out. (He lives above us.) He said he would return after an hour or two with someone who would fix it. When he came back, his brother was with him carrying the appropriate part. They went to work in our little bathroom-turned-laundry room. They probably thought we were so strange... not using the squatty potty and having a machine to dry our clothes. While they were working, one of the landlords precious little girls came to the door. She came in, and I got out a couple of Joshua's toys for her. He was napping, and she asked if she could see him. I told her that he would wake up if he heard a sound, but that she could see him later. She said, "But I won't make a sound!" She is maybe four years old with huge dark brown eyes and Shirley Temple hair.

Her Dad and Uncle finished their work, and he prepared to leave with his daughter. She wanted to stay, and I said that would be fine. I think that Joshua's toys were quite interesting to her. So we continued to play for about 30 minutes until Joshua woke up. Our little neighbor loves Joshua, and he is fascinated with her! She wandered around the apartment asking me to put Joshua in each of his different "places." (He has a swing, a bouncer, a floor gym, and a small mat with his toys.) She wanted to watch him play in each spot. I took her upstairs when we needed to leave, and I hope she comes back to visit!


This is the word that means "foreign" in Arabic. In our little community, everyone knows who the foreigners are and where we live because there just aren't that many of us. The sweet little girl I mentioned before went out on our balcony to call to her sister who is a year or two older. She yelled, "I am up here with the foreigners!" We have invited some neighbors to eat with us, and they declined several times. Finally, he told David he would like to wait until someone else had visited us in our home. I laughed when I heard that, but it also makes me sad. I don't know how we can open our home in a way that people feel comfortable here. I guess it will have to come with time. People here just don't like to try new things! For now I will just have to laugh and be patient as we will forever be "the foreigners" in this village.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A nighttime adventure of a different variety

I realize that "sleep" has been a more frequent subject of this blog, and I think that must be only natural for a new Mom. I will add another to the list. My Dad has been visiting this week, so Joshua has been sleeping in our room. He has done this before, but it was when he was younger and much less aware. I wasn't sure how this week would be; I expected him to wake up more often than usual in the night. Each night, David and I get completely ready for bed outside the room and then make our carefully planned entry. We ease into the bed as slowly and silently as is physically possible, and then we pretty much stay as still as we can until the morning. It has worked pretty well. Joshua has woken up a couple of times, but he goes back to sleep within minutes. I think he only cried the first night.

That is the necessary background information. Last night, we went to bed as usual. It was a little bit warmer than it has been, so I kicked off the blankets. I woke up with a pain on my ankle. I thought that something must have bitten me, but I didn't know how I should go about trying to find it without waking Joshua. At times, he seems a bit more sensitive to light than he does to noise. So I used my little watch light to look over the sheets. I didn't find anything, so I got back under the covers for some more protection. My ankle kept burning, so I finally got up to look at it in the light. There wasn't much to see. I went back to bed, but I couldn't go back to sleep. About an hour later, I was still awake when David started tossing and turning. I nudged him and whispered, "You are making a lot of noise!" (He had earplugs so I figured he didn't realize it.) He said something had bitten him, and it was hurting really badly. He got up to check it out as well. Now what we are thinking is that something has hurt each of us badly enough to wake us up, and it is somewhere in the room with Joshua.

We decided that we would have to move Joshua to check things out. I picked him up and took him into the dark living room while David combed the room. I was amazed that he didn't even budge as I held him... he even kept his thumb in his mouth. How incredibly lucky! What wasn't so lucky was that his pajamas were all wet. I hated to disturb him, but I had to change him! So what started as a bite on my ankle turned into our whole family awake at 3 in the morning... turning the room upside down, changing clothes, etc. We think it must have been a scorpion, and we never found it. I keep feeling things crawling on me now! Thankfully, Joshua cried while I change him, but he went right back to sleep at the end of the ordeal.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Don't leave me unattended!

Probably every kid in at least the last 30 years has one of these stacking ring toys. I never realized that it could be dangerous, but Joshua has found a way to make it so! He loves to take off the top ring and then shove the yellow stick into his mouth as far as he can. This timeless classic has become a "with adult supervision only" toy for our boy!

Dropping a nap

This week we have been doing a little experiment. Joshua normally sleeps during the hours that people are out and about, so we have moved to two naps instead of three in the day. I wasn't sure if it would work out because he usually really sleeps well during that third nap. I think we are on day 4 of this experiment, and we will probably stick with it. It is a bit more high maintenance for me to keep Joshua entertained for longer chunks of time, but it enables us to do more outside of the house. He has been so sweet and flexible, but he is certainly exhausted by the end of the day! With this new routine, Joshua is in bed for 12+ hours at night, and I miss him because he sleeps for so long!

Warning: Suffocation hazard

David brought home some bins to store off-season clothing under the bed. I filled mine very quickly, and as I covered it with the lid, I noticed that it had a picture of a baby on the under-side of the lid. The picture was a warning advising the user against putting a child inside the bin. I am not even sure if it would be possible to fit anyone in there, but I will keep that in mind!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

100% Potato Chips

When you buy a bag of chips here, you never know what you are going to get. That is not a deep Forrest Gump thought; it is reality! David brought home some nacho cheese tortilla chips today. Sounds like Doritos, right? Well, we were pleasantly surprised to find that they are, in fact, similar to Doritos... and much cheaper than the Doritos we can buy here. I noticed the bag said "potato chips", and that made me curious. I continued to study it, and the back of the bag says "100% potato." We thought that was strange since they sure taste like corn chips. The front of the bag says "100% Cheese Nacho Tortilla," and the back of the bag says "100% potato." Which one is correct? Well, the first ingredient is corn, so I guess that answers the question!

I'm bo-ored!

I am guessing that any Mom can hear that phrase ringing in her ears. The phrase I hear lately doesn't have those words, just lots and lots of fussing to let me know that Joshua is ready for a change... again.:-) So my new role as Mommy during much of the day consists of looking high and low for any random item in the house that will look fun to Joshua but not be dangerous for him to explore. His current favorite are his little plastic bowls. Who knows what it might be next hour?! I put away most of his toys, and I will get them out in a week or so in order to re-gain novelty. My next options are icecube trays, and I will just have to keep thinking!

Joshua is officially sitting up by himself! His big realization over the past few days has been that he can't actually lunge for a toy out of reach... this results in a shocking fall. Now he simply reaches toward something, and if he can't get to it, he looks around for something else. Always something new in the first year, right?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

And the elephants came falling down

Joshua has a "pack 'n play" that he primarily uses for naps when we have meetings at different houses. It is light green with jungle animals. There are three elephant heads that hang over him when he sleeps on an arch that attaches to the sides. Over the past few months, we have enjoyed finding Joshua in all different positions when we get him from his pack 'n play. He usually makes a ninety degree turn for some reason, and he is very precise. His most recent adventure in the pack 'n play is pulling the elephants down. The first time David noticed it, there was one little elephant that had clearly been gnawed. The next time, all three were in the bed with Joshua... what fun he must have had! We have taken this as his way of telling us that maybe he is ready to be lowered from the bassinet portion of the pack 'n play... not because we don't want him playing with his elephants, but because he is getting far too active in there to be that close to the top!

What comes with spring

We have been here for just over a year now, so I now have memories of every season in the year in a new location. As the weather has gotten slightly warmer over the past week, I am remembering the differences that we will experience with the start of spring and summer.

The most obvious difference is construction. Maybe a month ago someone commented on how peaceful and quiet our street is. I now laugh when I think about that comment. There is one building going up across the street, a gazebo right behind our house, 2 buildings a bit farther away behind our house, and a cage next to our building. I thought it was going to be a fence at first, but no, it really is a cage! And the bulk of the noise is in Joshua's room, so I am very thankful that he likes to sleep! You can also hear people outside enjoying themselves well into the night. I thought this was a fun part of the culture last year, and this year, I am hoping that the sound of voices, laughter, and music doesn't remind Joshua that he is missing out on things!

There is one interesting more weather-related difference during this "in between" time. When I say "in between" time, I mean that the temperature outside is warmer, but not warm enough to make our apartment that warm. So starting yesterday, we wore short sleeves outside and put on jackets to go inside!:-)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Besame Mucho

Another family that lives here has a little girl who is two years and a few months old. She is really cute with bright blue eyes and light blond hair. We meet together a few times a week, and Joshua has recently been so interested in watching her when she is around. He also flaps his arms and leans toward whatever he wants to see. Yesterday, Joshua was sitting in David's lap when his little friend came toward him. He flapped his arms and leaned forward so that he could explore her face. Her Mommy told her she should give "Baby Josh" a kiss. (She calls him "Baby Dosh" when she sees him.) Anyway, Grace gave Joshua several kisses right on his mouth, and he made some interesting facial expressions in response! He still seemed stunned from the experience several minutes later. I think he was more expecting to tough her cheeks and grab her nose.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Intruder Alert!

When Joshua was learning how to "go through sleep cycles," he often woke up in the middle of his naps for a little while. Sometimes he would cry for a few minutes, and other times he would make little noises before sleeping for another hour or so. David and I used to look at each other and say, "Intruder alert!" Lately, a different type of intruder has interrupted his sleep from time to time.

Joshua has a mobile above his head and a little stuffed dog tied to the side of his crib. They both play the same song. We thought that the mobile was defective in some way because the song started playing spontaneously in the middle of Joshua's nap or shortly after we put him to bed for the night. It seemed like it stopped before it completely finished unwinding. One afternoon, I went to look at him while he was sleeping, and Joshua was holding onto the little ring that you pull to make the puppy play music. I just thought it was so cute! It dawned on me later that it wouldn't take much coordination or effort to pull the ring and make the song play. David was pretty sure it was the mobile, so we stopped winding it for awhile. It started happening more and more, and Sunday, I was so frustrated because it was clearly waking him up! That afternoon, David caught Joshua in the act, and it turns out that the mobile was not waking him up, rather Joshua was waking up and playing with his little puppy friend. We have since put it out of reach!

First Word

Maybe that is a tease of a title, but Joshua has definitely been experimenting with the different sounds he can make as well as volume he can reach. David insists that "DADADADADA" is Joshua's first word. At this point, I would say it is more of his first syllable or vowel consonant cluster, but maybe he will place it with the correct person and then it will be his first word!

The picture doesn't have anything to do with this; it is Joshua looking cute while we practice sitting and learn Arabic all at the same time! Right now, Joshua is perfectly happy to not sit. Why learn to do it by himself when he gets attention and cuddles when we help him?!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Highchair Debut

Joshua has been eating solid food for over 2 months now, and this amateur Mommy just realized that most babies actually eat while sitting in a highchair! I have been feeding him in his little "bouncy seat" because that was as close as he could get to sitting up at all 2 months ago. Last week, we got our highchair down from storage, washed it from top to bottom, (we were blessed to receive a used one), and let Joshua sit in it for the first time. I think we both prefer it. It is nice for him to have his little table, and it is nice for me to be able to sit in a chair rather than hunched over on the floor. This week we introduced apricots and prunes... with good reason, but I won't give those details... and thankfully, he really enjoyed them! Now the evening meal time goes as follows: milk, highchair with spoonfed fruit/veggie/cereal, highchair time practicing picking up little finger foods while Mommy washes dishes or eats breakfast.

Joshua can pick up the little pieces, but he doesn't seem to get that what is in his hand goes into his mouth. At other times, he leans forward with his mouth open as if the little pieces might jump in by themselves.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ideal Language Learning

Most people probably know that I was a Linguistics major in college. Particularly because of my background, it is fun for me to have this experience of learning Arabic in a country where it is the first language. I have definitely learned things that I never could have learned in a classroom, and I have been able to apply many theories that I learned in the classroom. Before we moved here, I was so excited to sit down and study. I am internally motivated, and I spent many hours a week making notecards and learning vocabulary. I never would have imagined that I would get tired of it. Now, partly because of Joshua, but mainly because of where we are in our knowledge of the language, I can hardly stand to sit down and study at all. It seems like a complete waste of time to expand my vocabulary list. What I love now is to practice! (I guess when I say "love", I mean that I recognize this is the most important thing right now.:-P) Last weekend, I had the best time sitting with several women who speak very little English. They are all in the same family, so they are very comfortable with one another. It was so nice for me because there was opportunity for me to speak, but it wasn't as stressful as it can be when I am one of two people in the conversation. The best part is listening to them chatter away; it is encouraging to me when I can understand a lot because I feel pretty dumb when I try to form my own thoughts and verbalize them!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pardon me, but I think my mooquet is in your garden.

Most people here use clotheslines to dry their clothes. We have one on our balcony, and I was originally really excited about having a place to hang things that can't go into the dryer. David was glad to not have my clothes hanging all over the house... for awhile. I quickly realized that the nice white sheets flowing in the breeze at sunset on the commercials don't actually smell as nice as they look! Things that I hung outside always smelled like... well, I bet you can guess... outside! So I have only used the clothesline for a few things in the past 8 months. Sunday evening, after our utility room fiasco, I put a small carpet and highchair cover out to dry overnight. The carpet was in the utility room, and I had just washed the hand-me-down highchair cover. That night, it got pretty windy. I looked out the kitchen window the next morning to see the lack of carpet and the highchair cover hanging on my the buckle. The carpet, (the Arabic word for it is "mooquet"), was down on the ground, probably smashing something in the lovely vegetable garden behind our building. It made me think of the other times we have had funny clothesline experiences. Over the summer, one of our friends who visited put his shorts out on the clothesline. I think they ended up in a tree, and he went and got them right before he got in the car to go to the airport. The funniest thing was when my landlady knocked on the door at 10am apologizing because her husband's underwear had fallen from her clothesline to ours! I let her walk through our bedroom to retrieve them herself.:-)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bathroom rig gone awry

If you ask anyone here, we have two bathrooms in our apartment. If you ask one of us, we have one. That is because we have one Eastern toilet (a.k.a. "squatty potty"), and one Western toilet. We converted the room with the Eastern toilet into a utility room. The dryer is stacked on top of the washing machine, and the washing machine drains into the toilet... or hole in the ground... whichever term you prefer.You have to step over this "drain" to get behind the dryer. We have to do this quite regularly because we can only have 2 things plugged in at one time, and the washer, dryer, and water heater all share the same room. We also have to open a little window to stick the hose outside when we are using the dryer. All of this explanation is going somewhere, I promise!

On Sunday evening, I went to put the dryer hose through the window, and the hose came off. I had trouble re-attaching it, so David gave it a shot when he got home. Some time in there, we shuffled some things around and apparently stumbled a bit. The only reason I know this is that an hour or two later, I found water all over the floor! We ran a load of laundry through the washing machine with the hose pouring out onto the tile floor! Thankfully, there is a small step into the bathroom, so the water was contained. Also, the washing machine is propped up enough that it was fine. We just had to throw out about 10 rolls of toilet paper, and it gave me an excuse to "deep clean" the room. I just maybe would have preferred to do it at some time other than 8pm on Sunday!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Mama's boy?

Not neccessarily, but Joshua definitely knows how to push my buttons already! He has been sick this week, so he has been more fussy and needy than usual. The past two nights, I have realized the effects of my week of pampering him. Joshua was playing happily at different times... until I walked into the room. As soon as he saw me, he would burst into tears. I think we could effectively call these tears his first temper tantrums. "How come I can see you but you are not picking me up?" he seems to say. Joshua could play happily with his Daddy in the room, but not Mommy! This week, I think we will work on playing independently again!

Rubber Duckie, you're the one!

Joshua has one little rubber duckie, and it must be his favorite toy. I can put him down with 15 other little things around him, but if the duck is there, he will find it, and he will not care about anything else! I have tried putting it in the bathtub with him, but there isn't quite enough space for him to really play with it. Maybe his favorite color is yellow; I don't know... I just know that he must have that duckie whenever he sees it! And when I say "must have," I mean:
  1. cram it as far into his mouth as possible
  2. pull it away to get a quick look at it
  3. perhaps rotate it around a little bit to view it from different angles
  4. repeat steps 1-3

Hey, where did you come from?

Yesterday, Joshua realized that he doesn't know how to walk. I guess he always just thought he was floating around from place to place. He would look at whomever was in front of him, but he practically refused to look at the person who was holding him. All of a sudden, Joshua acknowledges the person who is holding him, and he thinks it is hilarious! Plus, it is an up-close opportunity to grab hair, noses, and glasses!

Not your typical Saturday

There are three things that are strange about today. First of all, it is Saturday. That is not strange in and of itself, but just wait. It is Saturday, and it is not the weekend. I understand that there are different "holy days" in different cultures, but it cannot be a "week end" if the days off are not together and at the end of the week! It is also Mother's Day today. So, let's review. Mother's Day... on a Saturday... when kids are all in school and parents are working. I am not trying to be narrow-minded; it is just strange to me! Oh, well, Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, March 20, 2009

No salad!

One of the hardest things about being pregnant where we live is that you can't eat fruits or vegetables unless you wash them yourself. It was a big bummer since I love to eat like a rabbit! The reason is something called toxoplasmosis; it is carried by cats. It is not a big deal for children or adults, but it can be fatal for unborn babies. I recently thought about it as I looked outside at the garden in our backyard and watched a cat wandering through it. Last summer, I had to resist every time we were sitting with friends and our hostess placed a big bowl of cherries in front of us. We are entering a season of really yummy fresh fruit, and I am excited that I will be able to partake more easily!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Praises and Smiles

During the first two months of Joshua's life, he rarely slept, and he was rarely awake without screaming and crying. You easily induce from those two statements that he was often unhappy... and for many hours at a time. It was easy to get stressed out; we were frustrated and sad at the same time. We constantly had PraiseBaby music playing, and I think it was more for us than it was for him! We got some of the dvds, and Joshua enjoys them from time to time. I never thought that such a young baby would have any kind of attention span for a little video, but he really likes them.

This week, we have watched about one a day. Joshua has been sick, and he has been waking up an hour early every day. He is actually quite punctual! If the time had changed here, he would be waking up right on time! Alas, we have 9 days... and yes, I am counting... until the time changes! So that leaves me with a sick, tired, and fussy baby nearly every day. Usually Joshua only fusses when he is ready to sleep, so I think I am spoiled now! With the PraiseBaby dvds, he is content, and I am more relaxed with the sound of the music. I am not trying to advertise; I am just thankful for a "worshipful" television option tat has made my mornings more manageable over the past week!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Food fun

The title might make you think this is about Joshua and his eating, but it is more about how fun I have making baby food.:-) I decided to make food for Joshua at home mainly because of how expensive it is to buy. (I think it is even more expensive to buy the jars here than it is in America.) I never intended to be rigid about this; if it starts to take too much time or interfere with other important things, I am fine with giving Joshua pre-made food. However, I thoroughly enjoy preparing food for him. I wish there were more options, but that will come as he grows! I use this wonderful thing that David found to puree the fruits and vegetables, and it is so fast and easy! Joshua continues to impress me with his preferences. Broccoli is hands down his favorite, and pears are perhaps second. He makes a face of disgust with every bite of potato, and he seems a little concerned about the consistency of bananas. I can see how it might get a bit more time-consuming as he likes to eat around 6 icecube-sized portions per meal! We started with three trays that I fill; but I just sent David out to buy six more! I have to go and puree some carrots now.:-)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sleepsack: for warmth and other things

Joshua has a couple of "sacks" for sleeping. We have put him in a fleece sleepsack almost every time he goes into his crib for several months now. A couple of times in the past week or two, I have let him sleep without it. I thought it was warm enough, but then he pulls off his socks while he is in his crib. Yesterday, it was so warm that he wasn't wearing socks. I laid him down for a nap in his pants an his onesie. When I got him up a while later, I nearly laughed out loud. Since he didn't have the hindrance of the sleepsack and he didn't have socks to grab, he decided to pull off his pants! David and I are still not sure how our uncoordinated little 5 1/2 month-old managed this feat!

The spiders came marching one by one

One thing that I have enjoyed about our apartment is the relatively small amount of bugs that we find. We see them from time to time, but coming from a poorly sealed house in Waco, anything is an improvement! For some reason, with the warmer weather, there have been lots of bugs inside. I thought that they would come in when the weather was cooler, but that doesn't seem to be the case! In the last couple of days, I have killed more spiders than I have seen in the last six months. Spiders don't bother me as much as those horrible Texas roaches, but I do sweep the room with my eyes extra carefully before putting Joshua on the floor to play!

Adjusting to a new season of life

This week a friend invited me to spend time with her. It was the end of a day when I had been out for awhile, and I was deep into straightening and cleaning our house. I knew it was not an ideal time, but I didn't want to turn down the opportunity. As soon as I hung up the phone, I started to realize all the reasons why it was much more than "not ideal," but it would simply not work. I wrestled with whether to just deal with it or call back and cancel. I found that my decision-making process looks entirely different now as a Mom. I wanted to go because it would be nice to see this friend, and it has always been difficult to connect with her. I was tired, but I could just rest later. The problem is that I don't just factor in myself any more, and I knew Joshua would be exhausted. Plus, I would need to feed him right after his nap, which was when they wanted to pick me up. The determining factor was the carseat situation. I had Joshua's carseat at home, but there is never a guarantee of functioning seatbelts in someone else's car. So, rather than "saving face" and sticking with my original "yes," I opted for my baby's safety and needs. It is often easy to sacrifice what I want, but it is a new realm when I am responsible for his well-being! (It is worth mentioning that most people here would not understand the carseat reason! They just hold children and babies of all ages in their laps or dangling from their hip on the motorcycle or in the car!)

Spring is in the air...

... or is it summer? On Monday, I was wearing long johns. Today, I wore a t-shirt, and Joshua sweated through his clothes for the first time. It seems like we went straight from winter to summer! I don't think it will last, but it has been nice to get out in the sun a little bit! I appreciate our concrete building the most during the transition from one extreme temperature to another because it stays moderate inside for several days. I must say that I will enjoy dressing Joshua in less layers!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Phrases we love

There are many things that seem silly or complicated in a second language. As we learn, I also find myself wishing that certain phrases had good English equivalents. For example, when you talk to someone who is sick or has been sick, you say "salaamtuk". This is a wonderful little phrase that is used all the time to wish peace or health to another person. You often say some form of it when you leave. Perhaps it would be like saying "go in peace" in English, except that feels much more natural to say it.

Another phrase we actually learned before we came is less polite. Maybe one would never say it, but it has always made us laugh. When translated, it means, "Go tile the ocean floor." It is fun to learn another launguage!

Mutated Bananas

On Monday night, right before I went to bed, I felt a little hungry. I thought a banana would be just the thing to get me through the night. I went to the kitchen, picked up the cluster of bananas, started to break one banana from the cluster... and realized this "cluster" was one really weird banana. I think it is three bananas that never completely separated. Maybe others have seen this before, but I never have, so I naturally assume that it is something that might have been tossed to the side at home before making it to the stores. It is still sitting on the kitchen table. I can't seem to make myself waste it, but nothing in me wants to eat it! Maybe I am overly particular, but it is just a little too weird!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Pass the broccoli, please!

I just wanted to mention a few new things in Joshua's life this week. Last night, he had broccoli for the first time. This seems to be an unconventional vegetable to introduce so early. Since we don't have a lot of green options, and his Mommy loves broccoli, I decided to try it. I fully expected him to hate it at first, but I think it is his favorite of all of the new foods he has had over the past two weeks! He must get his taste buds from me and not David!

Also new this week... maybe Joshua thinks he is a bird learning how to fly instead of a person who should crawl. He seems fully content to live life on his back with the occasional rolling over. There is no apparent interest in moving from one place to the other, but he does flap his arms like crazy from time to time. I don't mean the awkward movement that comes and goes; I mean he really flaps them up and down! I guess he is expressing excitement or something!

Joshua has been very verbal over the past few days. I will hear him from a different room of the house, and I think he is crying out for some company. When I go to him, I realize he is just having a very animated conversation with the boy in the mirror or whatever else he can find!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The wool is over his eyes

David often teases me about mixing up idiomatic phrases, hence the title. It will make more sense by the time you finish reading.

The last couple of days have been super cold here. It is funny to me that the coldest days are happening at the beginning of March, especially when I keep reading about how nice the weather is at home! Last night, we were really concerned about Joshua's warmth while he slept. We lost power at midnight, which is normal, but our house is in the 50s without it. My face was quite cold when I was bundled up in bed, so I knew Joshua's head must have been freezing.

Lesson #1: If your baby is sleeping well, and has been for several hours, then he is probably pretty comfortable.

We decided to dart into his room, put a hat on him really quickly, and then dart out.

Lesson #2: Don't mess with a sleeping baby!

You can probably see where this is going... Joshua screamed off and on for the next 45 minutes or so. I felt terrible for disturbing him, especially since the power came back shortly after he fell asleep again.

Today we put Joshua down for a nap shortly before the power came back on, so I put the same hat on him. About an hour into his nap, I heard him screaming. From time to time, he will wake up in the middle of his nap and then go back to sleep within 10 minutes. So I stood outside his door, ever the watchful mother, and listened for a minute. I have never heard that kind of cry before, so I rushed in to get him. He had pulled the wool hat down over his eyes. I snatched it off of his head and held him for awhile, and I was very thankful that he went right back to sleep. I think we will have to figure out another way to keep his head warm while he is sleeping!