2013 was full of changes and adventure for us, and lots of seasons. Here's a brief review:
Mourning and Recovery
The beginning of 2013 was overshadowed by the loss of my cousin Jenny in December. She had fought a courageous 15 month battle against an aggressive stage 4 lung cancer and not a day goes by that I don't think about her.
Picture of Jenny
We had a nice distraction at the start of the year with a fun trip to Phoenix to watch the Cats play in the Fiesta bowl. We had a really great time with my dad's cousin Ron and his wife Maggie! I loved hearing some old family stories and learning more about their time running the Bristol Bay Lodge in Alaska. Their hospitality more than made up for an ugly loss by the Cats.
picture of J and L golfing
In February we had more sad news--my sweet 85 year old Grandmother had died. We made the trek to Kansas again and while we loved seeing extended family for the second time in three months,
When we returned to Texas after my Grandma's funeral, we had some very surprising and unexpected news--we were pregnant again!
The week after my Grandma died and we learned that we had another baby on the way, Travis got news that there was a very good chance he would be placed in a job in the middle east. This was all very exciting but also overwhelming. I began mentally categorizing everything in our home into take/sell/store/trash and also take advantage of every opportunity we had to spend time with friends in Houston. In the meantime I was trying not to throw up on anybody and figure out what additional baby stuff I needed to buy to take with us. Travis flew to Saudi to start his residency permit process and at the end of May we hosted our second (and final) annual crawfish boil.
I think this screenshot of my calendar from last June speaks for itself:
The countdown had begun and now it was crunch time for getting our stuff organized before the movers showed up. I was absolutely dreading leaving our dear friends in Houston, but there was no turning back. We put our house on the market and scheduled the movers. I will NEVER put my house on the market while preparing for a move like this again! My advice to future expaters--wait until you move out, especially if you have a toddler!
I also took Lucy to the arboretum and children's museum a lot and signed her up for swimming and tumbling lessons, all in the middle of keeping the house clean for showings and trying to spend as much time as possible with our friends. That was my coping mechanism for "I'm leaving the United States for an indefinite period of time" crisis, and I think it helped, but boy was I exhausted! Then we thought it would be a good idea to drive 700 miles and take two flights to see as much family as possible before leaving the country. I was seriously tired by the time we got on our plane for Saudi, but no rest for the weary yet. Lucy slept about two hours on the entire 14 hour flight. So much for that plush business class lay-flat seat.
Once we finally arrived in Saudi it was so refreshing to put our feet up and just sit for a few days. We had no stuff and only a few friends. Here's a screenshot of August:
screenshot of August
We slowly explored the grocery store, restaurants and learned our way around Jubail and Khobar (specifically the Saad Hospital Complex).
Our New Normal
Lucy started going to the playschool here on site at the beginning of September. While they spend more time watching Elmo and Mickey videos than I would like, I know she enjoys it a lot. Drop offs were pretty rough the first month but now she asks to go to school and gets really excited about it.
On September 22nd we welcomed Ellie Kate to our family. For the final few months of the year we've been adjusting to life as a family of four. We had a great time with my parents who came to help out a couple weeks after the birth and we really appreciated their assistance! In October I started doing yoga and have really been enjoying that. Travis tries to go to the gym before work. In November I started a smocking class, so between that, yoga, and the grocery store, I only have one free morning a week!
We took a fabulous vacation to Germany in early December and really enjoyed our time out of Saudi. It was cold, the Christmas markets were beautiful, and we ate a lot more pork in 10 days than we thought was humanly possible.
A week after we returned Travis' parents came to visit and they have had a great time getting to know Ellie and playing with Lucy (and giving me a break!). We had a fun Christmas and took them to Bahrain for the weekend. Then they helped us rearrange our house. Hopefully it will be a lot more functional--our toy collection seemed to double over Christmas and it was getting out of control!
Picture from Bahrain
Despite the sadness of the first part of the year and the chaos of the middle, overall we had a great time in 2013 with family and friends new and old.