Monday, November 3, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Halloween seemed to go on forever this year!!!  Halloween was on a Friday (a weekend here in Qatar) and the boys didn't have school on Thursday for parent teacher conferences, so they had the Halloween parties on Tuesday!  The boys wore their costumes to school and I was at school all day for their parties.  Jaden's party was in the morning and we played some minute to win it games, decorated cookies, made lollipop ghosts and monster faces, played a would you rather game, and ended with snacks.  It was loads of fun!!!  Wish I had pictures, but I was too busy with the activities to take any.

After cleaning up, I headed over to Nicholas' class to help set up his party.  His teacher had 7 stations around the room for the kids to play ... so fun!  Ghost bowling, pin the tail on the black cat, monster hands, pumpkin faces, cookie decorating, lollipop ghosts, and bat blood punch.  I couldn't believe how much stuff she had for Halloween!!  Made my job as room parent crazy easy!!!  But again, I was too busy with the party to take any pictures.  :-(

After the class parties, I had to take Jaden back to the hospital to get his cast taken off.  A better prepared mom would have brought a change of clothes, but I forgot.  So I took them in costume!!  And boy did we get a lot of attention!!  Halloween is not a holiday in Qatar, so we had a lot of people staring at us wondering why on earth my children were dressed as a black spider and black panther.  Oh well!! 

Did I mention their costumes??  Nicholas wanted to be a spider this year and we were both excited to find out that a friend had a spider costume we could borrow!  It was a bit big on Nicholas, but he loved that the spider arms moved up and down with his arms.  It was perfect!!

And as always, Jaden had a terrible time deciding what to be this year.  That poor kid has the hardest time making decisions!!!  To help him with inspiration, I found a party store with quite a few costumes ... he circled the store 4 times and still nothing!!!  I was starting to lose my patience when I saw a mask of a zebra and a black cat.  Jaden has been into cheetahs and big cats lately, so I snatched up the black cat mask and convinced him to be a black panther!  He was sold!  Thank God!!!

They wore their costumes to school on Tuesday and again on Thursday night for the Halloween festival hosted by their school.  They do a really good job with this event ... there's a trick or treating lane, haunted houses, loads of carnival games, bouncy castles, and pizza and snow cones for snacks.   Jaden & Nicholas especially loved the haunted house this year!  So fun!!!

And the final event was Friday with trick or treating around the compound with a little pre-party at the clubhouse. 

All in all, they got to wear their costumes 3 times!  Unfortunately it was still super warm the week of Halloween and their costumes were warm, so they were a hot sweaty mess all week.  After trick or treating at our compound on Friday, we were cutting through the clubhouse to enjoy a bit of AC on our way back home.  I opened the door and Nicholas immediately fell to the floor, spread out on the cool tiles, and says, "AAAAHHHH!"  He's too funny!  But it was hot that night! 

Jaden wanted me to decorate his classroom door to look like a haunted house.  Here's the finished project.

Being silly on the way to the bus stop

Black panther
Black widow with vampire teeth!  :-)
Happy Halloween!!

Nicholas' Minecraft Birthday Party

Nicholas wanted a Minecraft theme for his 6th birthday party and thanks to Pinterest, there were no shortage of ideas for decorations, games, food, and prizes.  We all had a blast!!!  Might have been my favorite birthday party for my boys ever!!  It sure beat his 5th birthday party when the karate coach forgot to show up and he spent half the party crying on the stairs!!!  But that was last year ... this year was crazy Minecraft fun!!!
Nicholas chose the design for his invitation.  The front was simple, but the 3D creeper that pops out when you open the card took some careful measurements, cutting, and folding!  I thought they turned out cute!
We moved back all the furniture and filled the open space with lots of green and black balloons.  Kids played with the balloons while waiting for everyone to arrive.
I covered the picture in our living room with green paper to make a creeper face for the party
Ken put masking tape all over the windows to look like the windows in the game

It's funny how kids always want what they don't have.  I always make their birthday cakes, but all Nicholas has ever wanted was a "store bought cake with toys on top."  This was our compromise.  I made the cake and made the "toys" to put on top.  Nicholas was happy and that's all that matters! 

Snacks were minecraft inspired as well ... all things from the game:  Apples, carrots, "red stones" (strawberries), "sticks" (pretzels), "potatoes" (chips), "fish" (goldfish crackers), "gold" (Hershey kisses wrapped in gold foil), and cookies.


Game time ... we planned for a game of "creeper tag" and a crafting game.

 
Prize table for the crafting game.  We sprinkled bits of paper all around the house and the kids had to find the right "recipe" to earn the prizes.  They could win diamonds, gold, obsidian, emeralds, iron, bookmark, bouncy ball, notebook, glow stick, and a variety of stickers...all Minecraft themed.
Take home bags ready for the kids to fill with their prizes.

All set up and ready for their friends to arrive.
First game - creeper tag. Ken explains the rules. Whoever has the creeper plate is "it." 
Everyone wants to be it!
The creepers are released!

Our back yard opens up to the skinny strip of green ... perfect place for our game of tag

Everyone loved the game, but it got hot after a while and we came in for a water break before starting the crafting game

Lucas & Arthur bring their papers to the crafting table to earn their prize.

Colin is excited to get some gold!

Jaden helped hand out the prizes ... it got a bit crazy and he was a HUGE help!!

Lining up for prizes.  These kids would have played forever! But after ~30 minutes we closed down the prize table and served pizza. 

After the pizza, we went back outside for a TNT explosion.  Kids were ready to watch Ken set it off.

Ken add Mentos candy to a 2 liter bottle of diet coke ... look out!

Best I could do for a picture!  You can see the soda shooting out.  Ken did it twice and the second time, the bottle fell over and soda flew out toward the kids.  Hilarious!!!  It was a blast!!
Back inside for cake...
Lighting the candles


Singing happy birthday!


Silly Nicholas trying to think of a wish before he blew out the candles

Getting a bit of brotherly advice before making his final wish

He FINALLY blows out the candles!

 

Kids enjoying their cake and playing foos ball before heading home.
 All in all, a most successful birthday party!!  Happy 6th Birthday Sweet Nicholas! 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Picture updates

 
 I was excited to post pictures from Nicholas' birthday party and Halloween, but when I downloaded pictures from our camera, I found a bunch of other things to post first.  So here is a quick update from random events in August, September, and October...:-)

August 31, 2014 - first day of 2nd grade and Kindergarten
The boys had PE on their first day of school ... so off they went in their PE uniforms!  :-)
Recent picture of Maps ... after our summer away I'm afraid she became more shy around people and less cuddly.  :-(
Jaden & Nicholas with friends George, Ben & Henry ... playing capture the flag in the clubhouse at our compound before heading back to our house for a sleepover ... awaiting their baby sister's arrival.  We had a blast with them that night and Ken & I even got them all to bed at a reasonable hour for school the following morning. 
First "Minecraft" lesson from the Guidry family.  Jaden and Nicholas only just learned about the game Minecraft.  Ben, Savannah, and Vivian came over one afternoon to give them some tips on how to play.  It's a whole new language and I was dying listening in on the conversations about regenerating, spawning, and the nether portal.  But my favorite quote for the evening was when the game was going into night time mode and Ben shouts out ... "Everybody just go to bed!"  Apparently this is how you survive the night time.  All I know is I need to try that strategy at bed time ...


This would be Jaden's reaction to finding iron for the first time in the game.  He was a little excited.  :-)
 
Nicholas birthday was the same day as the EID party at school, so we had quite the celebration in his class.  I brought Minecraft Creeper cookies for his birthday as well as several baby pictures of him.  I had fun sharing stories with his class about what he was like as a baby.  Then another mom shared a story about the meaning of EID (a muslim holiday in which they sacrifice a lamb for atonement for sin) and then we enjoyed quite a feast for the class.
Happy little man on his 6th birthday!
Another mom brought in these treats for the EID Party ... very pinterst worthy!  Cutest little lady bug crackers!

For dessert, I brought in the minecraft creeper cookies and we also had lamb cupcakes for EID.
Jaden's class EID party was combined with a writer's celebration and each child was able to showcase their most recent book.  Jaden wrote a book about the life cycle of a butterfly and garnished quite a few compliments from his teacher.  She mentioned again in the parent teacher conferences this past week.  She seems to think he is a very good little writer.
October 13, 2014 - Jaden breaks the pinky finger on his left hand playing basketball during recess.  He went all day without telling or showing any of his teachers.  He even when to computers that day!  No one noticed his swollen, black & blue, crooked pinky finger!!!  He came off the bus holding his hand all funny and bursts into tears.  I guess he couldn't hold back any longer.  I wasn't sure if it was broken or just badly jammed, so we played with friends for a while before heading home to wrap it up.  When I tried to tape it to the finger next to the pinky, I couldn't get them to move together so we headed to the doctor to take a look.  X-rays were ordered, but it TOOK FOREVER!!  I didn't have his passport and resident's permit on me and it caused quite a stir!  We finally got the paperwork squared away and the X-ray taken, but by that time, our doctor had headed home.  We came in the following morning to find out that it was in fact broken and they taped it all up with a piece of plaster running down alongside his pinky finger to keep it stable.  We were told to return in 3-4 weeks, but after 2 weeks he forgot about the cast and jumped into a fountain to retrieve a lost soccer ball only to end up with a soaking wet cast.  The pediatric orthopedic doctor was back in the country (he wasn't in the country when Jaden broke his finger) and he said 2 weeks was enough time at this age, so the cast came off!!  Yippee!!!


Jaden and Nicholas with US Astronaut that came to speak at their school last week.  Unfortunately I missed most of the presentation, but Jaden had a great time!  He still loves all things related to space!  And the astronaut was very gracious to take pictures with many of the kids afterwards.

 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Letting go...

So September was an especially difficult month for me.  After returning home to Doha from an amazing 8 weeks in the states, I started working A LOT of hours.  I work for the children's ministry at our church and essentially split the job with another woman so that it balances out to be about 15-20 hours per week for each of us.  Angela and I worked really well together and it was a joy to serve the Lord alongside of her.  Unfortunately, like so many of us here in Doha, Angela's husband's job transferred him out of the country.  So I had to pick up all of her responsibilities until we could hire and train a replacement.  I quickly learned that I had drastically underestimated Angela's AWESOMENESS!!!  I don't know how she handled all that she did AND made it look easy and effortless!!! 

During those weeks, I realized just how hard it is to be a full time working mother.  The hardest part for me was the (self inflicted) guilt I piled upon myself.  All the little things that I used to do that I no longer had the time to do ... and feeling terribly guilty about it!  I had to learn to let things go.  It was (and continues to be) a hard lesson for me.  Some things were easy to cut out of my schedule ... time spent blogging, reading, on Facebook, etc.  Other things were harder to let go of ... working out, preparing nutritious home cooked meals, spending time with friends.  And some things I simply refused to cut out ... bedtime routines with the boys, volunteering in their classes at school, yoga :-).  It was a hard season in my life, but I've learned a lot about what is most important to me and to our family. 

There were many difficult days that I would rather just forget, but I want to be real.  So often we put on this fa├žade that everything is fantastic, even when it isn't.  Life can be hard.  We all have our high moments and our low moments.  September was a difficult and stressful month for me and our family, but I have SO MUCH to be grateful for! Ken was his usual supportive self and never got upset when laundry piled up and food supplies dwindled.  I don't think I went to the grocery store one time in 3 weeks!!!  Praise God for the convenient store in our compound or I don't know what we would have done!!!  I'm especially thankful for my friends that quite literally gave me their shoulder to cry on during my toughest days. And I mustn't forget that we are all healthy and the weather in Doha is occasionally dipping below the 100 degrees mark.  :-) 

And on the bright side, we have hired a replacement for Angela ... and Katie is AMAZING!!!  I'm not sure if I will ever be able to keep up with her constant stream of ideas and endless energy, but I CAN'T WAIT to see what God has in store for our children's ministry under her leadership!!

This week was EID Al Adha (a Muslim holiday) and the boys had the week off of school.  Katie was gracious enough to give me a much needed week off from church responsibilities and I've been able to catch up on so many things around the house ... for starters, we have a fully stocked fridge and pantry again!  I was also able to spend a lot of time with the boys preparing for Nicholas' 6th (belated) birthday party.  His birthday was last Thursday, but with so many people traveling this week for the holiday and me being stretched so thin for so long, we decided to postpone his party.  He wants a Minecraft themed party ... his latest obsession.  And thanks to Pinterest, we have tons of great party ideas!  I'll be sure to post pictures afterwards.

So life is starting to look up again and I thought I'd take a moment to update my blog.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

End of Summer - Houston and Doha

After Ken and I came back from Banff, we enjoyed a fairly lazy 12 days in Houston before flying home to Doha.  The boys attended VBS at our old church one week and I was able to catch up with many of our friends from church.  Otherwise, we just spent a lot of time hanging out with Ken's parents and the boys played with their cousins Tiffany and Alex.  It was a relaxing way to end our time in the states.
 
Playing with Alex
 Mai wanted to take all the kids roller skating one afternoon ... we learned that our boys are NOT naturals at roller skating!!!  The rink was packed when we got there and they didn't have any of those "walkers" available, so the boys had to try skating on their own ... NIGHTMARE!!!  Finally some of the little "walkers" were freed up and the boys had much more fun.  Tiffany was the only one who can actually manage her way around the rink without any help.

Alex was hesitant at first, but he did a great job!

I think Jaden struggled the most.  It was almost painful to watch!

Nicholas managed a little better than Jaden, but honestly, not by much.  Poor kids!

That's Tiffany next to the wall ... the only one to skate without any help!  Way to go Tiffany!!
Watching my children on roller skates made me realize that maybe my mom was right when she bought us our first pair of roller skates and would only let us have one at a time.  I remember learning to roller skate like a skate board ... one foot in a sneaker, pushing the one skate around and around in the basement.  I was so upset that she wouldn't let me skate with 2 skates!!!  I think she broke her arm roller skating as a child and was afraid the same would happen to us.  After watching my children on 2 skates, maybe 1 skate really IS the way to go...

Snack time after roller skating

Jaden and Nicholas with John Colunga ... their favorite babysitter.

Jaden also wanted to get a picture with our Pastor Don and John's dad Mr. Eddie.  Super cute!

Last day at Vacation Bible School.  The boys had a blast!!!
 After returning to Doha, we had nearly 3 weeks before school started.  We spent a lot of that time playing at home ... the boys had missed all their toys and they have a new obsession with board games and MineCraft.  We did manage to get them out of the house a couple of times ... once to go bowling and once to paint pottery with friends.  By the time school was about to start, we were all ready.  :-)

bowling with Garret and Elizabeth
Sweet little Maps also changed a lot this summer.  She was a kitten when we left but we came home to a grown cat.  She is less playful and has more attitude than before, but I guess I can't blame her.  I'd be pretty hurt if my caretakers just took off and abandoned me for 8 weeks!!!  We had someone come feed her everyday, but I'm sure she got pretty lonely with me and the kids gone so long. 

Maps

Unfortunately we also had to say goodbye to our dear friends the Verrips.  The constant rotation of people is life as usual here, but some good byes are harder than others.  Angela has served with me in Children's Ministry at church since February and her husband was transferred to Dubai.  We already miss her and her family terribly!!!