Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 Highlights

It's fun to look back at the year and pick one or two highlights from each month. Overall we had a great year with some new adventures, some changes, and lots of fun memories!


We welcomed the year with a fun staycation in Doha. The girls visited build-a-bear, started gymnastics (Evelyn and Olivia), and I got to sneak away for an overnight with friends from church the remainder of the month.


Along with celebrating Valentine's Day, I canned and sold my salsa for the first time! The girls celebrated International Day at their school with amazing songs and a parade. We also had some tough times as pneumonia put Evelyn in the hospital for a couple days.


We were able to get outside the city for the first time and visit the beach and the singing sand dunes. We celebrated Jason's birthday, Mother's Luncheon at the girls' school, and then headed off to Jordan for our first trip of the year!


My mom surprised the girls by waiting in the Doha airport when we arrived back from Jordan! We showed her some of our favorite spots around the city and celebrated Easter with her. Then I snuck away to the Seychelles for a much-needed girls trip!


We traveled back to America this month to celebrate my Dad being ordained a permanent deacon in the Catholic church and attend my sister-in-laws Baylor University graduation. The rest of the month was spent adjusting to the heat and customs of Ramadan, attending Madi's graduation, and preparing for the girls' birthday party the next month.


The challenge of summer birthdays is finding a date before everyone leaves and so we started the month with our Superhero-themed party! We had a couple day staycation with an amazing family, welcomed our first (non-family) visitor, and celebrated Madison's 6th birthday.


After school ended we found indoor activities to keep us busy before we headed to America for a few weeks. We celebrated Fourth of July with friends and went out to dinner for Evelyn and Olivia's 4th birthday.


The first couple weeks of the month were spent in America visiting with family before heading back to Doha. Jason and I celebrated our 11th anniversary with Blue Man Group and then dinner out. We also started preparing the girls for their start at a new school and the twins being in separate classes.


This month literally flew by with so many birthday parties, play dates, and kid activities! It was pretty exhausting, haha. Jason took each girl out for a Daddy-Daughter date which they adored. We also snuck in one final trip to the water park with two of our favorite families.


We traveled again as a family this month during the girls's school break. We met up with family friends of Jason's in Crete and enjoyed some time in Athens afterwards. We celebrated Halloween with compound trick or treating, enjoyed starting a weekly date night and couples Bible study, and a Hamilton-themed overnight with friends.


Madison and I went on a surprise trip to Baku, Jason took the girls camping with some other Dads, and us Moms went to Tbilisi for a weekend trip. We hosted Thanksgiving with friends and embraced the {slightly} cooler weather with lots of outdoor activities and fun like having a water balloon fight, scootering along a new boardwalk, and seeing Hillsong perform live.


It was definitely an eventful December! Just before the girls finished school Evelyn injured her finger requiring surgery and stitched. Thankfully she recovered amazingly and we are grateful for good medical care! We enjoyed celebrating Qatar National Day with different activities and explored more outside Doha by visiting Eye Rock and family camping in Zekreet. We had a quiet and family-focused Christmas Day which we all loved and appreciated.

We are thankful the girls are all healthy and doing well despite some of the minor health concerns we've faced in 2019. We are also glad that in late May we got clarity from Jason's work about our contract in Doha. We will be here for another 2-3 years and it's amazing to not be in limbo anymore and feel more settled. Looking back at the highlights for the year and seeing our Best Nine 2019 was a great reminder what the year held for our family.

We hope that everyone had a wonderful 2019 and wish you all the best for 2020! 

Happy New Year!!


Best Nine 2019

I don't know that I am ever going to tire of seeing the Best Nine collages that people are sharing at the end of the year. It's so much fun looking back and reminiscing on everything that happened and doing a 2019 Highlights post for the year.

The same way we did for Best Nine 2018, I have one with photos of just the girls and one of family photos. Such fun memories and way to see how much the girls have grown!


Eventful December

We stayed in Doha for all of December and while I thought the lack of traveling over the break would be relaxing and give us a chance to catch up on things around the house I was most definitely wrong, ha! It was a wonderful and jam-packed month and I can't believe today's the last day of 2019!

The first weekend of December threw us for quite the loop when one Saturday morning while we were preparing for a family bike ride we heard a scream and Evy ran into the kitchen holding her hand dripping blood all over. The poor girl slammed her middle finger in the front door and we knew immediately it required a visit to the emergency room. We messaged some friends from church for prayer and were so thankful when one of them offered to watch Madi and Liv so we could focus on Evy. They did an x-ray and determined she'd cut the bone off and would need to see a plastic surgeon (which we have an appt for at the beginning of January). They did surgery on her finger and also repaired the nail bed (and praise the Lord it looks like she is growing a new nail!) 

This sweet girl wore an arm sling to remember to take it easy the last week of school and we spent the month going for follow-ups and re-dressings of the wound. Thankfully it's all healed very well!

As school finished we prepared fun teacher's gift for the sweet ladies that love on our girls. All of them have mentioned repeated times over the break how much they miss their teachers and are excited to see them again when school resumes. 

The girls finished their Awana program and the twins were each asked to recite verses for their class. They did amazing and we are so proud of how well they've done memorizing Scripture. 

1. Marli and I ending up with extra kids for pickup. 😅
2. Saying goodbye to some sweet friends that are leaving Qatar.
3. I got to help chaperone Madi's class to the playground at Museum of Islamic Art.
4. Bible study finished with a fun Christmas program and I've enjoyed working on the board with these ladies.
5. Family photo at the Awana Christmas program. [This was the day before Evelyn hurt her finger.]
6. Dinner and overdue catchup with this lovely lady!
7. The kids baked cookies and made a Thank You card for the nice guards at school who keep them safe.
8. 9. The twins' classes hosted a Celebration of Learning where we got to see what they've been working on this unit and they got to plant seeds.

1. Spending some quality time with this one right after her injury.
2. 3. 4. The girls school celebrated National Day early since they finished before the actual holiday. After school we headed to the hospital for a re-dressing and checkup.
5. Visiting Aspire park with Daddy.
6. 7. Feeding the ducks and scootering around the park!
8. Making a stop at the Wholesale Market for bulk fruit and veggies to make a batch of salsa.
9. Made, canned, and ready to sell for those in Doha!

Qatar hosted a couple different football tournaments this month and the Fan Zone for one of them was literally around the corner from our compound. We decided to try biking over to it and check our the activities. It was lots of fun!

We also started doing some fun Christmas-related activities starting with gingerbread decorating at the Ritz-Carlton hotel. The girls definitely ate more than they decorated, but we got them to semi-focused to stick some on. 🤣

These Melissa and Doug ornament gifts were presents from friends last year, but we didn't have a chance to paint them before our trip to Sri Lanka. They loved painting them and were even more overjoyed when hey realized they were going on the Christmas tree. 

A lot of time was spent outdoors as well with trips to the Eye Rock and camping in Zekreet. The girls have also been enjoying their freedom to bike and visit the playgrounds at the end of our street. 

1. 2. Ikea play area for this crew and a coffee catch-up for me and their momma.
3. Yoga classes in our compound.
4. Date night! We went to a favorite Indian restaurant and then saw Star Wars.
5. And would it really be December without a trip to see Frozen II? Nope. These three absolutely loved the movie, but did get scared at a couple parts. (We spoke with them ahead of time about those parts and they handled it really well in the theater.)
6. 7. It didn't take long for Evy to get back on her bike and we've been going for some family bike rides around the compound and stopping at the various playgrounds along the way.
8. 9. Visiting our favorite Al Legtaifiya park with friends!

1. 2. 3. This month brought some light rains and the girls took full advantage to splash in puddles and play in the water. 
4. Enjoying a vegan popsicle from our favorite Superheroes Eat Plants stand at Torba Market.
5. Double date night!
6. We've been collecting corks and ordered a large wooden S back in Azerbaijan. We finally got started (~2 years later...) on glueing the corks onto it. Bets on how long it takes us to finish? 😆
7. Zoey took her seat on the "train" the girls had setup. 
8. CeCe clearly loves the carpet I bought in Tbsili this last trip. 
9. We took these kiddos for activities and delicious burgers at Craft Burger (I had the best noodle bun burger.)

We got our Christmas cards ordered and enjoyed spending Christmas together as a family with nothing to do but relax and watch movies in pajamas all day. 

I've loved seeing all the memes about the "unknown time" between Christmas and New Year's and it definitely held true for our family as I double checked what day it was multiple times. One of the things we made sure to take advantage of was a special they were running at Baladna Park with unlimited activities for a set lower price than usual. We had never been before and we went with friends and spent over six hours exploring the park and doing so many fun activities! 

It was definitely an eventful December for our family and we loved every minute of it!


Sunday, December 29, 2019

Family Camping in Zekreet

We took advantage of an open weekend to squeeze in a camping trip just after Christmas. This was my first time desert camping as Jason took the girls camping without me last month. We went to a slightly different spot our friends recommended and it was perfect! Sheltered from the wind by hills that are kid-friendly for climbing (which they did the minute we arrived until the minute we left- ha!)

It was amazing to just be outdoors with our family. The girls play so well together and have great imaginations. They never asked for toys or movies or said they were bored the entire weekend. They played with sticks, rocks, sand buckets, kites, and a football for hours.

We caught some amazing sunsets and loved watching the stars at night while roasting marshmallows for s'mores and snuggling close to read a book in the tent before bed. Overall it was a fantastic weekend and we can't wait to get out camping again!

Taken with my iPhone! 😲
We started the next day with breakfast, picking up trash on the beach, and of course more climbing and sunset watching!

Our last day we packed up camp and stopped at two places along the way back - Mystery Village and Film City (a small collection of buildings in the middle of nowhere made just for a movie).

We love getting out and exploring the beauty around us! "The Heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands."

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