December 17, 2014

#IAMKUWAIT and Bryan Peterson

Yesterday evening, I attended Bryan Peterson's photography workshop that was hosted by Nikon Middle East. He gave a great workshop called COLOR, and had endless examples of remarkably creative photos that he used to give photography tips and share some techniques. After the workshop, the #IAMKUWAIT photography contest winners were announced. The winning photographs were incredible! The winner first was Bryan Peterson's choice.
 The second winner was Nikon Middle East's choice.
 And the third winner was the people's choice (Facebook). This photograph received over 6,000 likes, whoa! They were all fantastic photographs, and it was fun to see the creative pictures people took around the country. I was not a finalist, but I had a great time at the event and got a lot of inspiration from Bryan's presentation.
And, of course I have no shame! Before the event started, I walked right up to Bryan and introduced myself and talked to him for a little while about a book he wrote called Understanding Exposure, that I recently read. I do think he was excited to see and American, I may have only been the only one at the event. He was a very nice man, and I even got my Nikon hat and shirt autographed :). A very inspirational evening, and hope to put some of the things I learned to practice soon!
 

December 13, 2014

Christmas Festivities and Friends

We had a full weekend of Christmas festivities and friends. This year it has been a lot of fun for Caleb to begin grasping holidays and their meaning. In the evenings, we read the boys a Bible story, and we have been reading about baby Jesus recently. When you ask Caleb what Christmas is about, he says Baby Jesus. He also thinks about Santa Claus, presents, and candy canes too, but we are thankful that he does know, though not understand yet, the meaning of Christmas. This weekend, we had a Christmas service at church. We sang carols, and then re-enacted the story of Jesus's birth. I was Mary and Ben was Baby Jesus…and it was a plan B performance!
Ben was great sitting through the songs and service, until about 30 seconds before it was time for us to go up. What you do not see is him whaling at the top of his lungs, for literally 5 minutes straight. If you know Ben, you know this is not characteristic of him at all. People laughed and thought it was funny, and eventually during the song, Mary Did You Know, he stopped crying. Turned out it was a dirty diaper that was bothering him. Even with all the crying, it was a nice depiction of Jesus's birth, who has come to save all who believe in Him, from all of our sins. I am so thankful for the church community we have, for the ability to worship in a place that is not free, and for the wonderful people that we have met here from around the world.
That afternoon, our friend Abeer and her two boys came over to play.  Caleb and Firas were like two peas in a pod and played so nicely together. When we first met them, shortly after arriving in Kuwait, Benjamin and Faris were only 5 and 7 months old, and Caleb and Firas were barely 2 & 3. Now they run around, laugh, and play together so well. It's amazing to see how much they boys are growing an changing. 
We had a pizza party at the house, then went to our neighborhood park to play. One thing I love about living here, is the beautiful sunsets just about every night!
Faris is a fun and handsome little two year old.

The boys traded a plasma car for a scooter for the week:)
Double trouble on the swings!
                                      
Abeer is such a loving and sweet mom. I love watching her with her boys. It was a fun day, and we are going to enjoy the remaining time we have with them before moving this summer.
Tes was up before the sun came up this morning to prepare a Christmas meal of Pancit, a traditional Philipino dish, for run-away Philipino women that live in a safe house close by. Tes has such a big heart, and it was so kind of her to prepare the special meal for these women who are in great need.
 Next, we went to a friend's 5th Batman birthday party at one of our big malls. This place was a kids paradise of games, toys, and candy. Caleb was asleep the first half of the party, but that didn't stop us from getting his face painted in his sleep after Ben was done :).
 Ben was cute and enjoyed some of the games. When the sang happy birthday, he must have gotten scared and began crying. But a ballon will always cheer him up.
 There was a monstrous ball pit and climbing structure that the boys…and mom enjoyed.
 And Caleb found a rocket ship to take him to outer space.
 After the Batman party, we did a quick change and headed to the Embassy for the Christmas party and visit with Santa. The boys did such a nice job practicing their Santa smiles.
I'm not sure what happened because there were no smiles for Santa, but there were also no tears, so it was a success!
 Bye, bye Santa.
 It was potluck, so we had lots of great food, time to enjoy with friends, a big bouncy castle and field for kids to run around.
True buddies :).
 It was a full, fun festive weekend for us all!




December 11, 2014

Benjamin Updates


A couple of weeks ago, we had parent-teacher conferences at the boys' pre-school. Both boys had got a great report, and today I'll tell you all about Benjamin.
Benjamin has developed and changed a lot since starting pre-school. He loves going to school, and just about every morning he gets out of the car, puts his backpack on, and goes right inside without even giving us a hug or kiss! Benjamin's teachers adore him, and say he is the sweetest boy in the class. He loves to hug and kiss his teachers goodbye and wave bye to all of his friends.
 The biggest change we see is how much more he can communicate with us. He likes to repeat words he hears, and he is good at letting us know his needs and wants. Benjamin loves to sing, dance, build, do crafts, and color. His teachers said he always wants to help with craft time, and really he just likes to help out with anything going on around him.
He doesn't look thrilled in this pictures, but Benjamin loves stickers and stamps! Most days when we pick him up, he has stamps all over his arms and face and stickers all over his shirt. He'll do just about anything for a sticker these days :). Maybe we will have 2 kids out of diapers before leaving Kuwait...
Benjamin loves to play outside, and he is turning into quite the little monkey. He likes to swing high and fast, go down the slide, and climb all over things.
Benjamin is growing, growing, growing. He is 2 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 25.5 lbs, only one pound behind his big brother. We love our sweet big boy to pieces!


December 9, 2014

#IAMKUWAIT

The other night on Facebook, I stumbled upon a Nikon photography contest called ‪#‎IAMKUWAIT‬, for people living in Kuwait taking pictures of Kuwait. The contest is being judged December 11 - 15 by Nikon, world famous photographer Bryan Peterson, and popular vote on Facebook, and the winner receives a Nikon D750 DSLR camera. I've never entered a contest like this before, but thought why not?!

I submitted a photo that I took of a foggy sunset at Mutla Ridge in January of 2014. Mutla Ridge is the highest point in Kuwait at a whopping 306m, and is located 8km south of the Iraqi border. The ridge is famous for its role at the end of the Gulf War in 1991, as the road that the Iraqis retreated from Kuwait. Today, people enjoy visiting the ridge to admire the natural rock formations and ripple sand, mountain bike in the winter, or explore the ridge by 4WD. It's a pretty awesome place to visit!

I'm really not counting on anything coming of this, but it was fun to enter. We'll see what happens on December 16th :).

December 2, 2014

'Tis the Season

I love this time of the year, when we begin preparing for the Christmas season. Where we live, there are no overt signs of Christmas. It is kind of an odd feeling, but it makes the meaning of Christmas even more special to me. Admittedly, we have had our tree and some decorations up since the day before Thanksgiving :). Here are the boys helping decorate the tree.
video
And you can guess what happened next…
We cleaned up and moved on.
Our tree is top-heavy with breakable ornaments, but there are plenty for the boys to play with down low, and in the middle too!
 We enjoyed putting some of our holiday favorites on display.
 And this year we got an Advent calendar to count down the days till Christmas.
Stockings are hung.
And some accents are out and about around the house. Christmas movie watching is in full effect. Tonight we watched Polar Express for the first time, and the boys loved it!
I love walking into our decorated home during this time of year. Feeling thankful for the start of this season, and enjoying spending evenings together in our cozy home.

November 29, 2014

Runq8 10k

This morning, a group of us participated in a 10k run, benefitting different non-profit organizations in Kuwait. Our family did the run last year, and we were glad to do it again this year with some friends. The weather was fabulous, there was even a little chill in the air. It was a great morning for a run!
 The runners at the starting line were anxious to begin the race. The announcer had to hold them back, this was about 10 minutes before the official start :).
Nathan's foot is still injured so he walked with the boys and I ran with a girlfriend. He and the boys walked part of the course, stopped at McDonalds for hash browns, then met us a few kilometers from the finish and ran in with us. The boys had a lot of fun watching all the runners, and they also got medals for crossing the finish line :).
 We did not win the race, but we couldn't resist pretending we did. Haha!
And we were extra proud of our friends' twins who finished not only their first 10k, but their first race ever!
We were glad for the fun run with friends and nice weather today!