Friday, December 31, 2010

The Ocean Revisited

Last year around this time, I was here: The Ocean

I read over that post from a year ago and was amazed.  At the time, I had no idea that I would be on the other side of the world a year later.  I had no idea what 2010 actually held for me: all the things that God had already planned.  And now that a year has passed, I find myself in the same spot.

In between the mountains...

And the ocean.

Wondering what will become of 2011.  Wondering what the Lord has in store.  And wondering where I'll be in a year's time.  But until the year unfolds, I'll choose to live one day at a time.

"For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed.' says the Lord, who has compassion on you."  Isaiah 54:10

King Sprout

I got to hold Kingston too...

I'd say it was worth it.
If you asked me, of course.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Plenty and So Sweet!

There have been plenty of babies born this past month.  Plenty means two.  And since we live with a doula, we seem to have an inside scoop into the wonderful babydom of life.

One of these plenty babies was Kingston!  Right after Kingston was born we went to the hospital and the girls held the little guy in their arms (so did I)...  Practicing and anticipating the birth of their new sibling.

Henry Ephraim Ball

I like it when Henry gets on to skype.  It's always interesting.  I won't show you some of the other pictures I could have taken yesterday while chatting with Kim and Ephraim (Henry)...

But I did get to see some of his wonderful magnadoodle art!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

An Art Student

I have discovered a lover of the arts.  She was right under my nose for months and I had no idea.

For Christmas I gave Aliza this mysterious package:

To: My Aliza
<3 always, Miss Kate Swanson

It contained this:

As well as, some art supplies!
I knew that the new year would bring a new class into Aliza's life for homeschool....
Art class with Miss Kate
Classy right?

So far we have produced two pieces of art...

A work entitled:
"Canteby and Zara the Fairies"

"A Turtle Underwater"

We're looking into booking an Art Gallery in 2012.  More later.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With...

I got some amazing things this year for Christmas from my parents.

We Swansons are very serious about Christmas stockings:

And mine held some real goodies inside:
1. A Hello Kitty 2011 Calendar
2. Toy Story 3!
3. A Little Beaver Finger Puppet (currently coveted by Aliza)
4. 2 Books
5. A Harry Potter House Patch
6. Bertie Botts Flavor Beans

And as it is tradition, my mum made me some things for Christmas:

A Zebra Pillowcase 
 a Stuffed Animal
(which reminds me of my Ugly Doll, Ox,
 who is currently coveted and held hostage by Jam Town)

I have to say my favorite present is the stuffed animal.  Those long arms are meant to hug me, according to my mother.  And every time Norah comes into my room she starts laughing and cooing about how much she loves it.  She has the best taste.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas in the Villa

When I walked downstairs to make coffee on Christmas morning, I expected all of the presents to be under the tree awaiting us...  But this is what I saw instead:

Where were the presents?...

You might say that Aliza is a bit of an organizer.
Here the presents are organized by size and shape, from biggest to smallest.

And oddly shaped presents (those not representing themselves in the form of a box) are separated entirely.

Even invitations should be in order instead of stacked.

After laughing about the state of the presents, we opened them!
And the girls had so much fun seeing what was inside.

Toys were in put into play-mode as soon as possible.
And when we left to go over to a friend's house, the girls were decked out in some of the things they had received!

Such a sweet Christmas!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas In Connecticut

I don't know if it's possible for my family to get any better.  Seriously. They are wonderful.

My Mom and Dad actually waited to open stockings and presents until we could open them together on skype.  And it felt like I was actually there!  It was such a sweet day yesterday!

Here we are opening stockings:

Dad always describes everything that he's getting and wears it right away.
Like his new fleece scarf.  
The act of describing everything that's going on (even if everyone is in the room and sees it very clearly) is a traditional Swanson tradition.  It's very traditional.  And tradition.

Thankfully, while my Christmas presents for them didn't get there in time, my mum gave something to my dad in my honor....

The Traditional Dad Present: Boxer Shorts

But one thing did end up getting there on time....

My mum's birthday present!
A very good book!

Happy Birthday Mummy!
I love you guys!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Shoes on Wrong Grows Up

How is it possible for a little girl to grow so much in just 3 months....  Take a look at this:

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Curious Case of the Cup

Yesterday, I posted that I went to the top of the Burj Khalifa.  You're probably still in shock.  But I didn't tell you the whole story.  As my bag went through security, the guard found something suspicious...   And I had to leave it in Norah's stroller at the bottom.

Want to know what it was?...

This cup.

You're probably wondering why I was carrying my favorite American size Ikea cup in my bag while visiting the Burj Khalifa....  I know, it's weird.  But we went to the Burj with everyone for Amanda Appreciation Day, celebrated in all 50 states.  It's McConnell hall tradition to bequeath something to anyone who is leaving.  That cup was my one prized-possession over here and I gave it to Amanda because it meant so much to me... but she means more.  I even left a little coffee residue from the morning so that she would have it to remember me by.

I have a suspicion that they didn't want me to take the mug up to the top because they thought I might throw it over.  Just so everyone knows, I wouldn't do that.  Don't worry.

But as I bequeathed my one prized-possession to Amanda, I needed another coffee mug to enjoy during my early mornings....

Thankfully Gloria gave me one for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

At the Top

Guess what.... I went to the top of the world.  Well maybe not the top of the world, but at least to the top of Dubai.  I actually accomplished going up the elevator of the tallest building in the world... and what's more of an accomplishment... I got off the elevator at the observation deck.  For a few minutes I chose to kneel and scoot towards the windows.  And eventually I stood up and walked around, never really feeling completely comfortable but still loving it.  Here's some of the view.

I am Burj Khalifa.

Do you notice what's behind Yaya's shoulder.
That's right, pigeons like the view too.

We even got to see the sunset.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Small Groups

Small groups of people are the best.  Last week, on Tuesday a small group of us went to eat out together and it was so much fun.  I wish that I had gotten more pictures.  I'll try again next time.  Promise.

The epitome of small..... group.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Christmas Concert

When we visited Abu Dhabi a few weeks ago, Kate, Cindy and I attended a Christmas concert at Emirates Palace.  Emirates Palace is the hotel where all heads-of-state stay when they visit the UAE. Needless to say, it was beautiful inside.

You may have heard about the $11 Million Christmas Tree that resides in Emirates Palace this Christmas.  It has at least 180 sapphires, emeralds, pearls, diamonds and other valuable stones.  Don't worry, I took a picture of it: (at the time I didn't realize how extravagant it was...)

The ceiling..... wow.  
The Queen of England strolled underneath this ceiling just a few weeks ago.

The Concert Hall

And the Christmas Concert
AUS stands for the American University of Sharjah.

It was wonderful getting to hear Christmas carols!

No Christmas concert is complete without bringing all of the children up on stage to sing Jingle Bells!

The world famous Gold Bar vending machine.  You just put a couple hundred durhams in there and out comes gold...  wow.