Normally I’m against torture…

Normally I’m against torture…

There’s something about a new year that gets me all nostalgic.  Or maybe it’s because I’ve finally updated to the new iOS which no longer supports iPhoto and so all 48 thousand photos I had nicely organized are now in one jumbled mess and have required hours of sorting… I’m not annoyed about that, no.

I digress.  One of my favorite Christmas decorations my mom would put out each year was our collection of pictures with Santa.  There is one in particular, where I’m sporting some crazy curls and my 2 year old brother is snotty, red-faced and screaming bloody murder.  I love that picture and was determined to keep the tradition of screaming children on Santa’s lap photos when I finally had my own kids.

I know, I know, I’m supposed to be all attachment parenting and anti-cry it out.  And yes, I believe strongly in those things.  But I take a pass once a year and force my children to sit on a scary stranger’s lap while I take their picture.  In theory it’s a terrible thing to do.  But in reality… c’mon, it’s tradition!!

Isla has never failed to disappoint.  Okay when she was two months old, she sat like a little blob, but since 2 month olds pretty much do that 24/7, I wasn’t too worried.


But one year old Isla and two year old Isla…. gold.

Three year old Isla bragged about how brave she was.  Santa?  Who’s scared of Santa?


But this was as close as she’d get to the non-Daddy version that year.


I had high hopes for Ruby.  And then my dreams were dashed when she giggled and grinned for the camera!

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No way am I paying for professional pictures again if my kid is gonna smile!  Isla liked Santa when she was four because, well, she liked Santa’s manicure.  And don’t be fooled by Ruby’s face.  She loved Santa, hated the camera.

So now I think Isla is finally growing out of her fear and Ruby loves the guy.  She does hate flowers, apparently, so I do still have that going for me.


Then surprise! Baby #3 comes along.  He sleeps through his first Santa picture, while Isla refuses to get close and Ruby cheeses like she’s been doing this her whole life.  Which she has.

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We had lots of Santa practice this year, and I fully expected Luka to follow Ruby’s lead.  He’s pretty happy go lucky and I’ve never seen him afraid of anything (unlike Isla who was afraid of pumpkins at his age?!?)  He was proving me right and I figured the tradition was dying now that Isla is six and totally confident around strange men with fake beards.

Oh yeah, also, this happened.


So when we were in the mall and saw a Santa doing pictures… for free… with no line, I thought why not?



Long live tradition!


Seriously?!? photos of the week

Seriously?!? photos of the week

I know that in many parts of the world, they are considered a delicacy…. but I’m pretty sure these guys were collected off the street after the first big rain.


I actually saw a lady buying some!  After a brief google search, I learned that you can actually eat any snails as long as you aren’t concerned about them having eaten something toxic.  Toxic, like…. garbage?  Not that we have any of that around here.


I sure hope this guy doesn’t have an important meeting first thing in the morning… cuz I’m pretty sure he’s not gonna make it to work in time!


Thankfully it’s not trash blocking the way into my car… but, seriously!?!  I may or may not have climbed in through the trunk to get to my seat.


It’s November.  Which means this little man is turning one this month.  How is that even possible!?  I’m pretty sure he was just born like 5 minutes ago!!  I’m in complete denial.  But c’mon, how absolutely precious is he?!


General Security vs…. a three year old.

General Security vs…. a three year old.

We have to renew our residency permits every year.  The list of requirements is always changing – letter from our church here, paper with official stamps saying we will take financial responsibility for our children, signed paper saying we will not marry a Lebanese, and on and on.  But one thing we’ve needed consistently is three passport pictures.

So our kids are pretty good at standing on the wall and taking their picture.  It’s actually like a rite of passage that they go through every year after their birthday.  Get their hair fixed, stand in front of the wall, look happy but not smiling, click click, and we’re done.

ruby passport

In the past, our permits are basically a laminated card with the picture we provided and all our information filled in by hand.  But in the past year, general security has moved to an electronic system.  We found out when we went to renew Isla’s visa and apply for Luka’s a few months ago.  Now each applicant is fingerprinted electronically (yes, including our newborn) and the picture is taken at the counter and put straight into the system.

We thought getting a 2 month old to look at a camera with both eyes open and to put four fingers on the electronic pad while applying the exact same amount of pressure for each finger was a challenge.  But that’s because we hadn’t attempted to renew our three year old’s visa yet.

Let’s just say that Ruby is in a very, ahem, strong willed, independent phase.  She’s perfectly capable of putting on her shoes, eating her sandwich, looking me in the eye, smiling at the camera…. but perfectly capable means nothing to a stubborn toddler who has decided she absolutely will not have her picture taken.

We encouraged, we bribed, we threatened, we reminded her that we can’t argue with soldiers and that they would not let her stay in Lebanon if she didn’t have a new visa.  The guys behind the counter were snapping and clicking their tongues at her trying to get her attention, but she was absolutely refusing.   I was seriously starting to sweat… forget the child who throws a fit in the grocery store because she doesn’t get the bag of goldfish she wanted, my child has decided to be ornery in the one place that could literally kick us out the country with a minute’s notice.

Finally the soldier told us meshilhal, literally “the situation is walking.”  Didn’t have a clue if they actually had taken a picture, but we headed to the next office to get a signature, then the next for another and then to the desk to pay.

Three weeks later, I found out what he meant by meshilhal.  General Security: 1, Ruby: 0.


Our love/hate relationship with Santa

Our love/hate relationship with Santa

Isla has never been a fan of Santa.




Last year she was more than happy to sit on Santa’s lap when it was her Daddy, but wanted nothing to do with the Santa at the mall.


Apparently this past week Isla saw Santa while she was on a field trip and wasn’t scared because her teacher told her kids in KG don’t cry about Santa anymore.  And I think the nail polish on this Santa won her over.


Ruby on the other hand has never met a stranger, including Santa.

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She tells us she’s scared of Santa (in the cutest little voice with her hands clenched in fists by her face… “scare!”)… but when push comes to shove, she’ll sit on pretty much anyone’s lap.


(The pouty face has more to do with the fact that she is getting her picture taken – which she apparently hates right now)

I feel like a bad mom… but I actually crack up at the terrified kid on Santa’s lap pictures.  So I’m admittedly bummed that Ruby seems to have no problem with him.

Flowers on the other hand….


Scrapbooking in 2013

Scrapbooking in 2013

While I love a good project involving scissors, glue and adorable paper, I just don’t have the time to spend on scrapbooking that I would like.  But at the same time, I hate having all of our family pictures stuck on the computer.

Which is why I’ve totally fallen in love with photo books.  We made little baby brag books for the grandparents after Isla was born.  After each home assignment, I’ve made a book for the girls that tells the story of their summer, which they love reading before bedtime.  (Plus it’s a great way to keep faces and places that they only see once every few years fresh in their minds.)

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My best idea so far, though, has been Isla’s school book.  She’d bring stacks of papers home from school every few weeks.  Some of them very worthy of the recycling bin, but there were others that I really wanted to save.  But then visions of the four thousand bins of papers from my siblings and I in my parents’ attic gave me pause.  :)

So I came up with the genius (if I do say so myself) idea of scanning some of her “best” work and turning it into a scrapbook at the end of the year.

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I included pictures from her first and last day of school, birthday parties with her school friends, the end of year show, and basically created a yearbook of her first year of school.  She loves it and is already choosing which papers will go in her KG1 book.  :)

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I’ve actually been meaning to blog about this idea for a while… and this weekend I noticed that Shutterfly is on Zulily for the next few days.  The books can be pricey, so I usually wait until there is a coupon or a good deal before buying them.  The offer on Zulily is good through the end of the year… so it could make a great Christmas present!  And in case my hidden links weren’t subtle enough (ha!), here’s a link to the deal right here.

Happy scrapbooking!  :)

Family photo shoot

Family photo shoot

One of the things I really wanted to do while we were in the States was get some family pictures taken.  For my birthday, Caleb set up a little photo shoot.  It got canceled at the last minute, but since we were already all dressed and ready, we decide to do it ourselves.  We aren’t professional photographers or editors by any stretch of the imagination but we managed to get some really cute shots of the girls!






So what’s the rule on editing?  I know most professional photographers have a pretty specific editing style.  We’re just playing around, obviously, but is it better to keep the same style for all the pictures you edit from one shoot?  I really like these next two with an antique look… although they look good in bright colors as well…



Probably my favorite pictures… because they are just “so Isla” are these two outtakes…..  in the first one she’s telling her Grandpa and Grandma how to walk through the pasture without stepping in horse poop.


And then her response when they don’t listen as closely as she thinks they should…


Oh, child.