Modern Day Pilgrims

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Motorcycle Rocker

I am really behind on my blogging but will just have to let this video suffice for now.  Yesterday, I turned around and Charlotte was on her rocking motorcycle...she got on all by herself.  Later that day, she even managed to figure out how to get off, too.  She's getting so big.  In fact, we took her to the doctor today for 3 shots and she is around 27 pounds. 

I'll try to blog more after Christmas...I have a lot to catch you up on!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Another Bag

I finished another bag last week and gave it to our friend, Sammy, as a Christmas present.  I thought I'd show a couple pictures on the blog, along with a cute picture of Charlotte.  I've learned that some readers of this blog don't like me posting new stories that aren't about Charlotte.  Hmph.  ;-)  Anyway, I caught her sitting on a Christmas box and buzzing her lips together having a good ole time.   The box was supposed to be under the tree but she walked off with it - apparently so she could sit on top of it and make funny noises with her lips.  When she saw me whip out the camera, she went into picture mode and started smiling.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Pictures

Today is Charlotte's 14 month birthday!  I decided to use this day to take a few pictures of her in a Christmas dress my mom made for her.  Enjoy!

Friday, December 3, 2010

My First (Successful) Pattern

Below are a couple pictures of my first ever pattern. Well, it's technically not my first if you count this dress and this doll, but it is my first successful one! I'm really excited about it and think it turned out rather cute.  :-)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Our family had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday and we sincerely hope that you did, too. I love the feeling that holiday's bring. Something about it just brightens your spirit and makes the whole day cheerier. Chris said it's all in the head, but even if that's true, it's still wonderful! We spent the day with our good friends, Terry and Jill. About a month ago, Jill and I met up for lunch and divvied up the menu. She took the turkey, ham, pecan pie, salad, mashed potatoes and gravy, and deviled eggs while I took the sweet potato casserole, stuffing, mushroom gratin, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, apple crisp, and my favorite...homemade bread. We couldn't have asked for a better day, but we got it. Instead of only celebrating the holiday between our two families, three members of the Armed Forces joined us, along with a co-worker of Terry's who is here without his wife and four kids. The former three are currently assigned to Isa Air base at the southern tip of the island. They endure pretty primitive and basic living conditions there, so needless to say, it was the least we could do to open up our hearts and home and share a proper Thanksgiving with them. This was one of the most memorable Thanksgivings we've ever had and I know it's not one we'll soon forget.

Homemade bread I made. If you didn't know, baking bread is one of my favorite hobbies, and I definitely think the extra work is worth it on a day like Thanksgiving.

The whole gang (minus myself). Charlotte ate her body weight in food.

Today, we celebrated "Black Friday" by going to a fair at a nearby British school. I'm trying to get rid of jewelry that I still have from my year-long stint of selling Premier Designs. I didn't get rid of all of it today, but I made a good dent. Chris came along and helped because we also sold my mom's homemade soap. The soap went over pretty well and we sold 30 bars! Yay, Mom!

The soap on display before the fair began.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Our Santa Baby

I got into the festive mood yesterday and decided to decorate for Christmas. I usually wait until the day after Thanksgiving, but I've had a productive week (just don't ask about laundry) and decided to set things up a couple days early. After I looked at the fruit of my labor, I felt like getting Charlotte dressed up in something festive! You see, my sweet friend, Erin, had just given me a pile of clothes that belonged to her daughter, Sadie, before she outgrew them. One of the outfits was a little Santa dress sized 18 months. My not-even-14-month-old-daughter is a chunk and is already in 24 months clothing, but I thought I'd squeeze her in the Santa dress, even if just for one time, to see how cute she looked and snap some photos. She was cute indeed, and I think the dress being a bit too small made it even cuter!

The look on her face cracks me up.

Strutting her stuff like a little model!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Quintessential Middle East Souvenir

For the past several months, Chris and I have been saving our pennies. Every time Chris has had to work overtime, we've put the extra money he made into an account we called the "rug fund". When we got assigned to Bahrain, we knew before we even arrived that neither of us would want to leave without purchasing an authentic Persian rug. Most Bahraini's can trace their ancestry to Persia, so the carpet vendors in Bahrain are able to go to Persia (Iran) and use their family lineage to buy rugs at a reasonable cost and then sell them in Bahrain for much less than you could get elsewhere. Other Arabs who do not have Persian descent are not able to do the same. If they went to Iran to buy a Persian rug, they would end up paying more than Bahraini's who go over their and use their family connection. And since we can't exactly go to Iran without potentially spending the rest of our lives in jail, we did the next best thing and bought one here in Bahrain!

The whole process was a lot of fun. When Bahraini's are doing a business transaction that requires a lot of money, it's expected to be a process and a relationship is built between the buyer and seller. When we first walked in, they asked us what we wanted to drink and then they asked again a few minutes later. We ended up having water, fresh orange juice, and tea before we were done. Unlike many rug stores in the states, the rugs were not hanging on rods that you could flip through yourself or pictured in a master book. Instead, we gave an idea of what we were looking for to the shop owner and then a few employees picked out several and rolled them out for us on the floor. Since they wanted us to be completely happy with our selection, it was not a bother to continually roll out more and more rugs. We weren't necessarily planning on buying that day, but with the incredible service, we decided to not wait any longer. No two rugs are exactly alike, either, since they're all hand-made. If you see one you can't live without, you better not wait because it could be gone next time!

We actually ended up buying two rugs. One is a silk/wool blend that was made in India and the other is an authentic 100% silk cashmere Persian rug. We didn't really plan on buying two, but I'm glad we did. The Indian rug is on display in our entryway and the Persian will hang on our wall as soon as we get a rod for it. Both rugs were entirely hand-knotted and took at least a year and half to make. I won't tell you how much we paid for these, but when you look at the intricacy and think about the labor that went into hand-knotting each thread, I'm amazed they didn't cost more. Yes, we're going to become those annoying people who ask people to take their shoes off at the door.

This is the front entryway rug that was made in India. Our housekeeper, Jhancy, who is from India, looked at the rug admiringly, paused as if in contemplation, and then said all the nice ones are exported. Ha! We wanted a really big one and I think this one is perfect!

This is the Persian rug that we'll be hanging on our's a bit too nice to let people walk on. The design of the rug is a "dome" design. This was by far our favorite design scheme for a rug. They had another one that was similar in colors to this but a bit darker. It was a little bigger and had more knots per square inch, so it was almost twice the price. They went and got this from their warehouse and it was worth the wait. Even though it's not as nice as the other, we are still very happy with this one.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Statement

I woke up to this sign on my computer this morning. I just love my husband and his sense of humor channeling Dwight Schrute from The Office!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

An Afternoon at the Park

The weather is starting to cool down in Bahrain as the winter approaches. Winter in Bahrain feels like Springtime in the states. It is so lovely! We decided to get out and enjoy the welcomed cooler temps by going to a park that recently opened on the island of Muharraq. We decided to take a picnic and stopped at a new cafe by our home. By the time we got to the park, our food was cold (traffic) and then we saw an EZ's fast food restaurant at the park. Have you ever seen a McDonald's or Burger King at a park? That was new for us. Oh well. Besides seeing a fast food restaurant at the park, we also saw a couple other interesting things:

A man sweeping the grass....? I don't even see anything that needs picked up.

Chris noticed this one. There's a fence coming down from the other fence and has barb wire and the whole works, but you could easily go around this fence and jump over the low cement wall. We're not sure why they even bothered with this!

The park had a 3k trail that went around the Persian Gulf. Unfortunately, we went when it was low tide so we didn't get the full experience of walking along the coastline. It was still a very nice day and I know we'll go back before our time here is up.

Chris and Charlotte walking on the trail.

A pic of Charlotte enjoying her time at the park.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

More Sewing - For Charlotte This Time

I spent a tedious two days doing my least favorite part about sewing: tracing patterns and cutting out the pieces. I did this for 10 dress or so because I wanted to know how much fabric I'd have left to work on a few projects I'm hoping to have done by Christmas. As a result, I can get sewing on a dress whenever I want now! I love it! I may do this method from now on...spend a couple days getting my least favorite part about sewing over with so I can just sew, sew, sew on all those projects waiting on me! Here's some pictures of what I made yesterday and today:

If you look in the lower right, you'll see an embroidered tree. I did this with my sister's help on her embroidery machine this past summer. I love how this dressed turned out. I think it's much cuter in person than it looks on the front of the pattern.

The back of the dress. This is a 2T but it's really not too big on Charlotte...maybe just a bit long.



This skirt is fun. It looks pretty basic here, but....

I altered the pattern a bit and pleated the contrast fabric to create some lovely folds and movement. This should be a very flow-y and poofy skirt when Charlotte is big enough to wear it. I'm also going to make a tulle petticoat for her to wear under this, which will make the skirt even poofier!

The skirt is actually a circle skirt...thus the flowiness and poofiness!

Here's the patterns I used: Butterick 3477, McCall's M6063, and McCall's M6066

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Snuggle Bunny

Three posts in one day and on a Saturday? You might be asking yourself why I'm not doing something more important like spending time with my husband. Well, he's not here. He had to work this morning so don't you feel bad now. ;-) Just kidding. Anyway, for Charlotte's birthday, someone gave us the book, "Snuggle Bunny". Charlotte isn't real into books yet, but she LOVES this book. She'll literally bring it to me every few seconds and would be perfectly happy if I did nothing all day but read this book to her. I've read it so much that I have it memorized and it got to the point where I put it way up high so that she couldn't reach it and bring it to me. Although, she somehow managed to get her hands on it and brought it to me this morning. I'm not sure if Chris took it down? This book was written by a British author so it doesn't come out in the states until the Spring of 2011. Being in Bahrain, a former British colony with lots of British expats, it's available here. I recorded myself reading it to her this morning:

Tennis Lessons

Two blogs in one day! I guess it's a busy Saturday blogging morning for me.

Tennis is something my brother, Matt, got me into about seven years ago. We started watching men's tennis on TV whenever it was on, and we even spent a ton of money to go to the Indianapolis RCA Tennis Championships to watch every match Andy Roddick was in. Ever since that time, I've wanted to learn how to play the game. It's an incredible sport to watch and it takes so much skill and strategy. If I had my childhood to do over again, I think I would've played tennis since learning a new sport seems to be one of those things reserved only for kids. I know it's never to old to learn something new, but how many adult leagues do you know about that teach you to play basketball or football or any sport for that matter? Adult leagues are usually reserved for those who already know how to play. If you think about it, this isn't very fair since only a fourth of our life is spent as a kid, but it's the way it is and it probably won't be changing anytime soon. Imagine my delight when I learned about tennis lessons for adults here in Bahrain.

My friend, Erin, started taking private lessons last year and she recently set it up for her, myself, and two other girls to take group lessons. So for the past 5 weeks, I've been learning to play tennis! I'm not very good, but I see potential. Maybe not pro tennis potential, but I see the kind of potential that means I could have a leisurely and fun tennis match with a friend without frustrating them or myself. Last night, the company I'm taking tennis lessons through held a social tournament. Everyone was there just to have a good time, meet new people who are also learning tennis, and practice their game. It was a lot of fun. I was very nervous about going knowing full well I'd be the worst player there since I've not been taking lessons for very long. It was excellent practice and I didn't do as bad as I thought I would. Mind you, I didn't do good, but I don't think I stunk up the court, either! When I first started taking tennis lessons, I struggled most with my serve. After some practice, I finally figured out what I was supposed to do last week. Last night was my chance to see if I was right! Most of my serves went in (yes!), which I was thrilled about!! I even won a doubles and single match! I won't tell you how many I lost, though! :-)

When we move back to the states, I hope I can find someone to continue giving me lessons, and I hope I can find enough people to play with. Here in Bahrain, most of the mom's don't work and most of us play tennis or are learning how to play, so it's not hard to find someone who wants to hit balls back and forth. Chris took a few picture from last night. He had a hard time getting some good ones because it was too dark for the camera and most of them came out super blurry. Here's the best ones he got:

Only in the Middle East

I was flipping through a local magazine the other day to see if I could find anything to put in the newsletter I edit, and I stumbled across this ad, which absolutely cracked me up. I'm used to seeing ads like this in American magazines, and I'm sure that's what this company was trying to imitate, but there's one problem. We're in the Middle East. Things are much more modest here. Having the model don a bikini (or even something that's more form fitting) would not be considered appropriate. As a result, the model looks the same in her "after" photo as she does in her "before", and taking off her abaya doesn't really help, as I'm assuming the creators of this ad thought it would. Maybe if you're Middle Eastern you can see the difference. I can't, which makes this ad entirely too ridiculous and funny.

Click on this photo to make it bigger.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween 2010

Chris and I are in the process of developing family traditions. I think they are really useful in developing a family bond, making memories, and even building a spiritual heritage for our kids. If you're interested in reading more about this, Kent and Barbara Hughes talk about it in their book, "Disciplines of a Godly Family". We're not entirely sure what traditions we're going to establish for Halloween because neither of us are super keen on how it glorifies and celebrates evil...something that wouldn't exist if it weren't for sin. I could expound on my reasons for agonizing over this holiday, but I'll stop myself. If you want to know, you can ask me sometime. The only thing we really have figured out for Halloween is that we're going to focus more on October 31st being the anniversary of the Protestant Reformation and make it a family tradition to watch the movie "Luther" on or around October 31st.

My friend Erin threw a children's Halloween party and we decided to take Charlotte to it. Afterwards, we trick or treated with our friends, Jill and Terry. Here's some pictures:

Wonder Woman!

Wonder Woman times two?

Captain American is married to Wonder Woman and they had a baby Wonder Woman together...did you know that?

Justine the mermaid, Sammy the box of crayons, and Charlotte as Wonder Woman.

Trick or treating

Sunday, October 31, 2010

USS Harry S. Truman

Yesterday, Chris and I had the privilege of touring the USS Harry S. Truman that is currently docked in Bahrain for the next couple of days. We weren't able to take Charlotte because she was too young, so you won't get to see any pictures of our cute little punkin this time around. We had a nice time and it was awesome to see with my own eyes what a Naval ship looks like on the inside. Even though it was the size of a cruise ship, it didn't look anything like it on the inside! I can see why our brave soldiers get tired of being at sea for so long at a time. They definitely don't have near the luxuries we do, nor is there life even comparable to a cruise!

Here's some pictures from our tour:

There was a small room dedicated to Harry S. Truman, the ship's namesake. This picture shows what the oval office looked like while President Truman was in office. Apparently, there was a lot of construction while Harry S. Truman was president and he was tried of looking at it, so he hired someone to paint a tree mural to put behind the oval office windows. And did you know the S in his name doesn't stand for anything? He wasn't born with a middle name, but when he was running for office, advisors told him a middle name would make him sound more distinguished. His middle name was literally the letter s. Here is Justine pretending to sit in one of the chairs on the mural!

This is a carbon copy of the letter President Truman signed giving permission to drop the Atom bomb. You should be able to click on the picture to view it bigger.

A collage of pictures inside the ship and a few decals painted onto the planes.

Chris and I posing in front of a plane. We got in the mood to watch Top Gun after touring the ship and I think we will soon.

"Give 'Em Hell" is the ship's motto. Harry S. Truman never actually said this, but one time during a speech by Truman attacking the Republicans during a 1948 presidential election campaign, a supporter yelled out, "Give 'em hell, Harry!" Truman replied, "I don't give them hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's hell." Thus, "Give 'em Hell!" became a popular slogan for Harry S. Truman amongst his supporters.

The chain on the ship and some pictures from the flight deck.

The air traffic control tower. It's amazing to think that this ship is its own functioning airport.

Sammy and Justine in an air traffic controllers chair.

Justine in an air traffic controllers chair, typing on a computer, another picture from the flight deck, and a picture Justine took of me.

A view from the balcony of the ship. I loved how they arranged the planes for us tourists!