Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Weeks 25 and 26

I missed a week for the first time ever!  It's going to be really hard to keep track of all of the weeks during repat but I'm going to do my best.
Last week I was in NYC for picture Tuesday.  It was the first time I'd left the babes overnight and it was heavenly to get away for a few days.  Glenn had a crazy weekend and Amy, Gregor and company helped him out so much.  Glenn ended up catching strep so he wasn't feeling great for most of the time.  I was so glad that he had plenty of help loving our little kids while I was away.
I need to post an update on NYC, New Hampshire, and Boston but that will have to wait until I get home and upload all of my pics from my camera.  For now here's an update on our little ladies.
Kenna and Taryn have been such good travelers this week.  Last Wednesday after they turned 25 weeks old Glenn drove the kids down to pick me up in Boston and we stayed with Brendaen and Jill for our last few days on the East Coast.  They slept really well and were so adored by their cousins.  It was such a great stay with the Makechnies.  They were all so kind and helpful, as always, and just loved all of our little kids.  It's so endearing to be around people who love our kids.  And to see our kids love them back.  It's such a recharge for the soul to be around family like that after being away for so long and living in difficult circumstances.  
Here's their picture Tuesday for 25 weeks.  This is a picture that Glenn sent me while he was feeding both little girls at once.  He's amazing.  Which I knew.  
 And one with Grandma Heather and Grandpa Arthur.
Taryn and Kenna have been a little more out of sorts this week.  Taryn has been a bit stuffed up and extra drooly and Kenna has been fevery on an off and just generally not feeling well.  It's sad to see them not feeling their best but we think that they're teething and hopefully after those little teeth poke through they will be feeling better soon. Taryn is starting to scootch around a lot more.  She can turn around on her little belly and roll around like crazy.  Kenna can get around more as well but she generally chooses to just hold still and watch what's going on around her. Auntie Cami and Auntie Aubry lined up all the Hansen girl cousins yesterday and took this cute picture of them all.  Man, we make cute little girls!
Taryn had her EKG and Echo-cardiogram today at primary children's hospital and she was a champ and held very still.  They told us in Saudi that when she had an echo she would need to be sedated!  I'm so glad we came and got some tests done here.  The cardiologist was very sweet and explained everything really clearly.  Her heart murmur is really slight and shouldn't affect her life at all.  We just have to keep an eye on it in case it gets more severe.  Right now it's in the lower end of the mild zone so she's not very worried and that makes me so happy.  I love my little girlies.
Here are the girls 26 weeks old!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Picture Tuesday week 24. And a LoNg journey home!

This week was our big trip back to the US. And what an epic trip it turned out to be.  We left our house at 11:30 Sunday night and took a taxi to the airport in Bahrain. We didn't have any idea what to expect on the causeway so we gave ourselves plenty of time but it ended up being a breeze and we got to the airport with two hours to kill in the middle of the night before our flight boarded to Dubai. All of the kids did so well. They stayed awake and they were happy and sweet.  It was remarkable really. We kept them awake on the flight to Dubai hoping that they would then sleep a lot on our 12 hour flight to Boston. The layover in Dubai was pretty rough. My head had been hurting but it got a lot worse and I ended up throwing up a couple of times at the airport. Tate did just fine after a whole night of no sleep but Finn was a bit of a zombie. We didn't have our strollers since they were checked straight through but emirates airlines had some that the let people use in the airport so we got a couple of those for the girls. But we didn't have enough hands to push one with poor Finny.  He was exhausted and had to walk. He kept crying "I just keep getting so much tired!"  Poor boy.  We had a bit of time to kill so once we got to our gate we sat the boys down with an iPad to keep them awake. Taryn and Kenna were such troopers. They fussed when they were hungry and fell asleep when they were sleepy. We got on our flight and the boys were both out by the time we took off. We got the girls little bassinets set up which was so convenient for us to have somewhere to put them down but not super convenient for the people sitting next to us as it made it difficult to get out and get their tvs out too. Everyone around us was so patient. Taryn and Kenna only cried a few minutes the entire time. We fed them and played with them for a bit and then we'd put them in their bassinets and they'd fall asleep. It was miraculous. Tate and Finn didn't end up sleeping for a long stretch like we had hoped.  They both conked out for a few hours but then they were mostly awake the rest of the time.  Meanwhile, my headache kept getting worse and I kept taking Tylenol but it wasn't helping at all. A few hours into the flight I was checking the clock and wondering how I was going to make it for 9 more hours. After about 6 hours and a few trips to the bathroom to throw up, Glenn asked a stewardess if they could do anything. They ended up calling a doctor on the ground so he could prescribe some pain killers that they had onboard. I took those and they helped a bit but honestly not a lot. I felt kind of foggy and dizzy but the pain wasn't lessened like I hoped it would be. They also gave me oxygen a couple of times as the doctor said that might help too. I felt so sorry for those sweet stewardesses. They couldn't just leave me with the oxygen tank so one of them had to hold it and stand there for about half an hour each of the two times I had it. They were so wonderful and I felt so bad! I don't know if I've had a headache that was worse than that one. And at such an inconvenient time!  Glenn was amazing, as always.  He was so great with all the kiddos and so attentive and worried about me.
Tate and Finn started to get a little antsy at the very end of the flight. And we were all so so happy to land in Boston. Customs was a breeze. Getting all of our luggage took about half an hour and by then I was starting to feel pretty awful again. We got on our shuttle to the car rental place and while we were waiting for Glenn to get things settled I was  watching Finn walk along a low ledge by the window and jump off. I thought to myself, " I should probably tell him not to do that" but I was too sick and tired to do it. And then he slipped when he was taking a jump and hit his head on the leg of one of the chairs. He was screaming pretty hard so I knew there was sure to be blood. Aaaand there was. People rushed over to offer napkins and tissues and bandaids. It was so sweet to have so many people be so helpful so fast.   He had a cut and it bled down his face but it wasn't very big and seemed like more of a deep scrape than a gaping slice so we ruled out a rush to the hospital.
We got little boy bandaged up and got in our car and started driving to Brendaen and Jill's about 4:30. A lady at the car rental place had given us a cup of ice for Finns head. I ended up throwing the ice out the window and throwing up in the cup. Good, good times.
When we got to B's house I went straight downstairs after Glenn set up the bed and went to sleep. The boys were both zonked so Glenn got them bathed and in bed quick too and then he stayed up with Taryn and Kenna and Brendaen and Jill until they were ready for bed. Seriously, Glenn is amazing. I'm so grateful he had the patience and the energy to step up and pick up the slack even after a night of no sleep while I was completely out of commission. Taryn got up in the night but Kenna slept really well that first night. They were up once a night for the first few nights we were here but last night they finally slept until 6:30 again! The adjustment was much smoother than I anticipated as far as the night time sleep is concerned. Their daytime naps are a complete mess but I hope we'll get it figured out eventually.
We ended up at urgent care on Tuesday morning and found out that I have strep throat. I'm so glad it was something that could be treated very easily! And luckily no one else has caught it!
What an adventure. I'm so glad it's over. I think the kind trip would have been surprisingly easy had it not been for me feeling so terrible because the kids were all so wonderful.  I sure love my little kids.
The little ladies have been absolutely adored by their cousins and Aunties here. It's darling and so wonderful to see them love my little miracle babies.
Here's the girls' picture Tuesday for the week.  We've not been great at taking picture of our trip so far.  This one is of the girls playing on the floor of our room.  Sweet, happy girls.
Taryn and Kenna, 24 weeks old

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Picture Tuesday, 23 weeks old

This week our little ones have sort of pulled a switch on us.  Taryn has been the one waking up first from naps and waking up fussing at night.  Some nights this week she cried for up to half an hour three or four times.  We go in and settle her down or roll her on her tummy but neither she nor Kenna are keen on pacifiers so that doesn't help.  It's a process but hopefully they'll sleep through the night.  Then again, we leave for the states in a week so we'll just have to start all over again over there.  At least now we sort of know how to help them get it down.  

Taryn has had a cold for the past couple of days and of course Kenna caught it and is at the beginning of it too.  They are still remarkably pleasant considering how awful they must feel.  They are both so snotty and have the cutest little snarfly breathing noises.  They don't fuss much but their little red-rimmed eyes are so sad and they love to be snuggled.  They sneeze and snot shoots down to their chins.  It's hilarious and sad at the same time.  I guess better to get the bugs out of the way this week and hopefully be healthy next week when we're traveling and adjusting to jet lag.

Taryn has started to blow raspberries with her tongue.  It's so cute...unless she's trying to show off her new trick while we're trying to feed her baby food.  Then it's just a mess.  It's also a mess when they sneeze or cough in the middle of a bite.  Wow.  

They're both starting to scootch a bit more and pull their knees up under them when they're on their tummies.  They're not getting up on their knees yet but it's kind of exciting and sad seeing those little steps toward more movement!  One morning this week I went in to check on them because Taryn was fussing and found that she'd fallen back to sleep.  Even though we started them off on opposite sides of the crib I found them like this:
 I love that they're holding hands.  It absolutely makes my heart melt to catch little moments like this where they are so clearly finding comfort in each other's company, even though they're so little.  It's the sweetest.
Here are our little girlies.  Taryn and Kenna, 23 weeks old.
 Couldn't get a smile out of Miss K today.  She was just too beat.  Poor little lady.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Nana and Grampa's visit

Nana and Grampa flew in on Thursday night, May 14th, but didn't get to our house until about 1am on Friday.  They came to meet the little babes and to be here for their blessings.  It was a very last minute and rushed trip because their visas came in and we were able to book the tickets just 2 weeks before they came.  But we are SO glad they came to visit.  There is something really freeing about being able to show the people you love where you live.  Something bonding and relaxing that there are now more people in your life who have seen and experienced this crazy place we live in and can truly relate to what we do here.  
Nana and Grampa woke up early so we could get to our 9am meetings.  The girls looked beautiful in their gorgeous blessing dresses and behaved so well.  We were so glad to have them there for our little ladies' big day.  We showed them around main camp a little bit after the meeting and then drove home to relax for the afternoon.  After some Sabbath Day naps we did some bowling and gave them a little tour of our compound.  
Some friends in our group let us borrow their car for the week so we could fit all of us in one vehicle for our little excursions.  We decided Mom couldn't miss a day trip to our little beach at Ras Tanura so we headed up there for Saturday morning.  We spent a couple of hours at the beach even though it was crazy windy that day.  Finn didn't need much coaxing to get in the water.

Tate, on the other hand, was totally ticked when we made him get in for a bit.  We didn't think about it until later but Glenn said he has a really hard time getting into murky water too.  It creeps him out when he can't see the bottom.  I just spent so many summers at Lake Powell that I guess I got used to it but our poor little Tate-o with his extensive knowledge of sea creatures and active imagination was just sure something was lurking below waiting to gobble him up.

We all swam for a bit, taking turns with the boys and the girls who stayed in the shade of the pavilion.
And when we were tired of the wind we decided to pack up and hit the pool just off the beach.  We swam there for a bit and fed the babies and then we ate lunch at the cafe before heading home.
By that time we had sort of missed nap time and decided to just power through and hit the pool at our compound some more and then give the boys an early bed time.  Success.  Everyone was exhausted by the end of the day but we were all happy with all of the water time.
On Sunday we got to go to main camp so Mom and Dad could experience the joy of the ID office.  We got them their temporary IDs, honestly, without incident, and then picked Tate up from school to take him out to lunch.  We had time to hit up a park for a bit before dropping Tate back off and heading to the bus stop at the comm.  There's not a noon bus back to Rakah so we were trying to get the 1 o'clock bus back.  We were there just a few minutes before 1 and waited for over half an hour.  No bus.  A friend from our compound was there too and the bus never came.  A true Saudi experience, I suppose.  Waiting in the sweaty, hot, sun for our bus to take us back home and then it never came.  We were able to get a taxi which was really lucky, and headed back home.
The next day we decided to venture out to Rashid Mall for lunch and then let Finny ride rides.  We booked a taxi and a return time, found our restaurant before prayer time, ordered and ate without incident.  Then when we got up to the play place we found silence.  Everything was completely shut down from the 11:30 prayer time until 4pm.  We had come on the weekends before and played after we ate lunch, but apparently it is closed during the day during the week.  Good to know.  So we wandered around the completely closed down mall for an hour waiting for our taxi to come.  Another genuine Saudi experience for ya.  Good times.
The next two days we just decided to hang out on Rakah and hit the pool.
Grampa taught Finny how to fly like a plane.  Finn was in heaven.
Nana and Papa held the babes until they just nodded off.  I can't tell you who was more in heaven with this little arrangement.
And then on Friday we got out taxis at 6am and headed to the airport for our flights to Dubai.  It was awesome.  A short little flight.  A really quick trip.  And SO many hands to help with my kiddos.  Dreamy.  And then we landed in this big, modern, clean city.  We drove past the Burj Khalifa.  We drove past so many stores and restaurants and malls and I couldn't help but think, "I could actually go to those places if I lived here.  I could drive to them if I wanted to, any time I wanted to."  Just knowing that made me feel so much lighter in this country that I'd only just arrived in.  Mmmm.  I think I'm gonna like it here.
Our Atlantis trip was a spur of the moment decision to begin with.  Some of our friends told us about a deal they got on a room there so we decided to give it a try too.  It was still pricey but with so many perks included in the price, and with getting the rooms almost half off the normal price, it was so so worth it.  And when Nana and Grampa decided to visit over this trip, we were so happy to have them join us on our adventure!  Arriving at the hotel was so cool.  It's huge and gorgeous and so decadent.  Fountains everywhere.  A HUGE blown glass sculpture in the lobby.  Marble floors and mosaic tiled walls.  Everything was gorgeous and nice but also so whimsically themed that the kids felt right at home.  It was a very nice resort that was meant for families.  An amazing combination that made us feel so welcome and relaxed.  A complete breath of fresh air in every way.
We got into our rooms and immediately changed into swimming suits and headed out to the water park.  On our way out we walk past these huge walls of aquarium.  Tate and Finn could have stared at them all day long.  There is so much in the underwater world that seems magical to me.  And obviously, to the kids.  Everything seems to move so gracefully, to know it's place.  You don't ever see fish bumping awkwardly into each other.
 This was our camp out spot every day. Right here next to this huge kids play structure.  Finn was in heaven. We got to the park that first afternoon at around 2 or 3 and we played for a few hours before we were all hungry and tired.
Seriously.  This place is so beautiful.  We ended the day with some shaved ice.  It tasted so amazing in that heat.  I couldn't even get the boys to look up from their cups long enough to take a picture.
We went back to the room and got changed and then hit up a little outdoor buffet for dinner.  It was all the way on the other side of the resort and by the time we got there Finn had fallen asleep.  We just put him in his chair and couldn't get him to wake up for even a bite of dinner.  It was darling.  Poor exhausted boy.
The dinner buffet was so so good.  I couldn't believe how good the vegetables tasted.  I'd forgotten how good quality vegetables taste.  It's been so long since I had them!
The next day was my birthday.  Not a bad place to turn 32!  I never ever would have guessed that I'd be spending a birthday in Dubai at the Atlantis resort.  What an incredible and lucky life we lead.  We woke up, got in our suits, and headed down to the breakfast buffet.  We decided to upgrade our rooms and the upgrade included some club level snacks and breakfast at one of a couple of buffets.  The breakfast buffet was amazing.  Everything was SO good.  Glenn and I couldn't get enough of the fruit.  Seriously, quality produce is so hard to come by here in the Kingdom!  
We tried to hit up the water park but we were a bit early so instead we killed some time by wandering through the shops and then as soon as it opened we found a prime spot under an umbrella and right next to a shower to keep our feet wet.  The babes were so sweet.  They'd fuss when they were hungry or get a little cranky when they were tired but it usually only took a bit of coaxing for them to fall to sleep.  They didn't ever sleep for as long as they would have done in a bed, but they still were able to be happy and sweet most of the time in spite of being sleep deprived and so so hot.  

We took turns watching the girls and keeping track of Finny as he wandered around this huge play structure and going down every single one of the slides.  That kid is getting so fearless in the water.  It's wonderful and stressful at the same time.
The water wasn't very cold but it was still refreshing to be wet.

Here's Grampa, helping direct Finn up the playground to the very top slide.

We had to keep finding a little bit of shade to sit in with the babes.
Finn played here every day and couldn't wipe the smile off his face. He was in heaven.
It was so awesome to have extra sets of hands with the two little ladies.  Glenn and I kept saying all weekend that we probably could have done it on our own but it would have looked VERY different and we would have done a LOT less.  But with four adults we could leave one or maybe two watching the girls and Finn and the rest would go with Tate on the lazy river and find some rides.  The park is so well designed.  They have this huge lazy river with different forks.  Some lead up ramps that have conveyor belts that take you to different places where you can get on tube rides.  Some lead to different sets of rapids and one leads to a wave pool.  It's pretty amazing that you can get in the lazy river at one spot and then take different turns to get yourself all over the park without ever getting out of the water.  Which was a HUGE perk considering how hot the pavement was.  Next time we definitely need to bring water shoes of some sort.  
Tate was SO brave and rode just about everything he was tall enough to ride.  I think his favorite was the tube ride that went down a dark slide and then ended in a plexiglass tunnel that went through a shark tank.  It was right up his alley.  We played until we were exhausted and then headed back to the room around 2 to give the kiddos naps and then get ready for the aquarium and dinner.  We had arranged to meet Katelyn and Wade and their kids for dinner that night at 5:30 and we hit up the aquarium first.  It was very well themed.  Each room was decorated so completely it really felt like we were exploring a lost underwater city.  The boys were so happy to run around and discover the underwater world again.  

Finn and Tate loved these cushions on the ground in front of all of the big aquarium windows.  Finn liked to run and jump on them in a daring belly flop WWF style.  Tate was happy that there were little couches just for him to enjoy the fish.

They had a little touch tank with star fish, horseshoe crabs, urchins and flounders.  Tate got daring after some encouragement from Nana.  Finn said, "No thank you."

In one room they had this big tower with different levels.  Finn just had to climb up it and then said, "Mom, take a picture of me!  I'm the king of this mountain!"

Taryn and Kenna were quite content to just hang out quietly in their stroller and be admired by one and all while perusing the fishies.
The girls received their usual amount of adoration from passersby that weekend but since there were far more passersby than usual it seemed like we were constantly being stopped by people asking if they could take pictures with them or kiss them or hold them.  Some people didn't ask they just got right in their and kissed my babies.  That's weird.  Not sure how to say polite pass when they're already leaning in.  Do I shoot my hand between their lips and my babies' cheek?  Sorry, I don't know you or where you lips have been.  Please remove them from my infant!  Weird.  
Dad always wanted to be pushing the stroller.  I think he liked the celebrity status that came with being attached to these two cuties.
After we thoroughly explored the aquarium we let the boys pick out their souvenirs.  They had perused the shops that morning and been thinking hard about their decision and seemed pretty sure what they wanted.  Tate got a little stuffed lobster he lovingly named pinchy.  And Finn picked a stuffed shark named bitey.  They were both beyond thrilled.
We met up with the Hunts at the Italian restaurant in the resort.  They were very kind and came to us since we didn't quite feel up to venturing out with out little crew.  Hopefully next year they can show us around their city!  It was so good to see them.  Katelyn and Wade lived in Saudi for a year and was a huge source of advice and caution when we were making our decision and then preparing for the move.  It was so nice to meet together and reminisce about the nonsense that is Saudi sometimes and then to talk about the perks.  Both of our families being able to visit London this year.  Our family sitting in the Atlantis resort right now!   The greater understanding of the people of the world and our place among them.  I'm so glad to have her.  She is a model of strength and perseverance and never ceases to amaze me with how much she does with and for her little kids.  
And speaking of the little kids
It was an absolute joy watching these four get along so well so quickly.  Tate and Tessa are very different but had a lot to talk about.  Bode and Finn seem like two peas in a pod.  It was darling seeing them holding hands and chatting away at each other.  They shared pizza and then we weren't done visiting so we walked outside and happened upon a really fun playground.  It was still hot and sticky but less so with the sun gone down so they played and got nice and sweaty for a while as we finished talking.  
It got late too fast and they had to go home but we all promised that we'd see each other soon.  Tate woke up the next day with a list of things he had forgotten to tell Tessa.  And Finn woke up asking if his new friend could come to play at the water park.  And then if his new friend could come to our house to play with our toys.  If only, Finn.  If only.
Mom and Dad insisted on taking the girls into their room that night so we could get a solid night's sleep without waking up for the night time feeding.  It was very sweet of them and nice to have a little more rest.  That morning was our last and we packed everything up and left our luggage at reception as we headed out for our last morning at the water park.  After the breakfast buffet we hit the water park again until we were thoroughly exhausted and had hit everything we wanted.  Those three days were just the perfect amount of time.  The first day we still had a few hours in the water before it closed and then after another full day and a long morning the next day both boys were done.  They didn't even want to do anything else.  They had done it all and were completely satisfied and spent.
We all showered and dressed in the locker rooms and then got one more photo op in the lobby of this gorgeous resort.

We got some taxis to the airport and then had a quick hour and a half flight and got through Saudi customs so fast that we had to kill half an hour before our taxis arrived to take us home.  What a trip.  What a beautiful, perfect long weekend.  I think I have an Atlantis addiction to deal with now.  It was just so perfect.  The food, the atmosphere, the water park, the company.  It was all absolute bliss...and now I need to go back!
We got home on Saturday night and Mom and Dad didn't have to go home until Monday night.  We kept Tate home from school on Sunday just because we got to bed a bit late the night we arrived home.  We spend another couple of blissful days in the pool with Nana and Grampa and plenty of time lounging around at home in the AC and feeding little babies.  It was so nice to have them around and have so much help.  It felt a little strange like I didn't know what to do with myself when I'm only doing one or two things at a time instead of my usual 5 or 6.  I knew that it would be a hard adjustment back to doing it all myself after they left.  
We're so glad they came to visit.  It was a great visit and we were so glad to be able to share our experience here with them.  Come back soon Nana and Grampa!