Wednesday, December 26, 2007

"I GOT MUCH THAN YOU!!!"

Despite what this video shows, we had a wonderful time on Christmas morning. (Notice the loving attitude between Madison and Matthew Ray.) We were able to spend time with "just us." Santa mangaged to find small gifts that would fit into our suitcases for when we head back home in a couple of weeks.
God's blessings to us continue to AMAZE us!!! We do get MUCH from HIM! May HE be glorified in ALL THINGS!






Monday, December 24, 2007

Pre-Christmas Fun

We were able to spend some time with family in Tennessee 2 days before Christmas. It was such a fun time and blessing especially since we didn't think we would see them for 3 years! Here's a taste of our time together!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Beach Fun!

The great thing about Florida in December is that it is still great weather for some beach fun! Instead of snow, you get sand! The Kings joined us for some beach fun this week. Here's another slide... (there are many pics of Madison in this because she seems to like to pose the most for the camera! :)

Christmas Cookie Fun!!!

Some VERY DEAR people have allowed us to stay at their beach house while we are visiting Pensacola. We arrived a few nights ago. When we walked in the door it was just like Christmas morning!! The owners had stocked the kitchen with all kinds of food and had left TONS of goodies for all of us!! They also left sugar cookies with icing and sprinkles for the kids to decorate. We had some friends over to help us decorate. Thanks "Stubs" for EVERYTHING!!! Here's a few pics of some of the fun!



Matthew Ray is the Star for a few days

When we found out we would be in the states for longer than we had planned, the girls wanted to go see friends in Pensacola for a few days. So, Matthew Ray got to spend a few days with momma and daddy all by himself. He loved it and we loved the "one-on-one" time with him. Here are some highlights...

Catching you up on life....

It's been a little busy in our family since we arrived back in the states. We have seen a lot of friends and family and have traveled to several states. So, the next few posts are going to be slide shows of what's been happening. We will be in the states at least for the next few weeks until we can find a flight back home. Until then, we are traveling and living out of suitcases!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Funny Story I Promised!


Air conditioners, Hot Peppers, High pillows and the Psychiatrist

If you had a headache that started with a major pop in the neck near the base of the skull, followed by the worst pain you had ever had in your head, followed by complete blood in the whites of your eyes, what would be your diagnosis? What kind of doctor would you see for these symptoms? What kind of tests would you have done?

Here’s our story. Serious but sooooo funny in soooo many ways!

Two weeks ago my husband, Matt was doing some pushups as part of his exercise routine. (oh, what a buff man he is!) As he came up on his last one, he heard and felt a pop in the right side of his neck, followed by the worst pain he had ever had in his head, followed by the whites of his eyes completely turning blood red. When it happened it was kind of one of those surreal moments that you just think, “Well, that was strange.” He continued to have a headache for the next day, so we thought we should probably ask a medical person’s opinion. Before I go into the rest of the story, let me tell you that we live in a major city in Africa. In this culture it is easy to get appointments with doctors and all visits are done in the evenings.
We first saw an orthopedic doctor at our schedule appointment for 9 pm. He told us that he didn’t know what had happened but that it was not a muscle in his neck. He then told us that if it were him, he would get and MRI and MRA brain. We left his office at 9:30 and called the scan lab and they had an appointment at 10:15 pm. We headed across the city to a scan lab to have an MRI and MRA brain. The technician came out and said all looked good and sent us home.
The headache continued and with the advice of a medical friend here we made an appointment to see a neurologist. This appointment was scheduled for 10 pm that evening in downtown. We entered a moldy smelling office with a friend and were greeted by the doctor 15 minutes later. We told the doctor the whole story, he asked to see the scans and then he looked at Matt for a minute or two having him touch his nose and follow his finger. He then said, “You have what we call a tension headache.” We went over the incident again to make sure he understood what had happened and that we could not see the whites of Matt’s eyes when this happened. His reply was, “You know when you get angry your eyes can turn red.” “You can also get a headache from sleeping on a high pillow.” Then he proceeded to say that the headache was probably from studying Arabic so long in the air conditioner. I have no idea what he said after that because there was no need!!! 
The headaches continued with the pain going from severe to mild. By this point we had been on the phone with doctors and radiologists in the states trying to get their opinion. Their concern was that Matt had had a subarachnoid hemorrhage. No one knew what we should do-all were researching. In the mean time, we had some of our local friends offering to talk to doctors that they knew. One of our local friends talked to a doctor that she highly respects and he said, “Some people that eat hot peppers can have really bad headaches.”
Then some more friends had some relatives who knew a “good” neurologist. He agreed to make a “house call.” He arrived with his little black bag, heard the story, took Matt’s blood pressure, had him touch his nose and looked in his eyes. He also flipped through the scans much like you would a stack of cards. He then said, “You have a headache. You are perfect. You may just be anxious.” He left and we still had no answers for what had happened. We started to feel a little helpless and at the same time silly. We know people have headaches and we know there are many reasons for them. We could not find answers to the initial incident.
An hour after the “house call”, our Arabic language teacher came by to say hi and check on Matt. She looked down at the receipt that was written in Arabic from the “house call” doctor on the table and said, “Why did you see a psychiatrist for your headache.” Hmmm…guess that wasn’t the right doctor.
Needless to say, we were done seeing doctors here for answers.

Side note: We have seen doctors here for other minor things and Stacey has even had gall-bladder surgery here. All of our medical care has been excellent. But for some reason, there are not too many experts for the brain.


So, the doctors in the states thought that they needed to have Matt evaluated in the states. The fear was that he had a subarachnoid hemorrhage. After seeing a couple of doctors in the states and having more tests run, it turns out that he had an “exercise induced” migraine. We are told that theses two things look very similar and the only way to tell one from the other is a spinal tap. Of course, nothing can be easy….Matt had a reaction to the spinal tap and it made him worse than before!

Here we are two weeks after returning to the states and he is feeling great! We are so thankful for the good diagnosis. The doctor told him that it could happen again and if it did to “STOP IT!” (Not much different advice from the doctors here! )

Now we are waiting to return home. We thought it would be this week but have learned that there are no flights available until after Christmas. So, we will enjoy our time with family and friends during this holiday season! We are so thankful for many things….Matt’s brain is good (even though some of his friend may argue that!), we can return to our home in Africa, we got to spend Thanksgiving with family, we get to spend Christmas with family, Matt can now go back to eating hot peppers, studying Arabic in the air-conditioning and sleeping on the pillow he loves. He is even cleared to exercise again!LOL! One thing we do know for sure... when things get crazy and life seems “up in the air” we know THE ONE we trust in! HE is so faithful! May HE be GLORIFIED in our lives in ALL THINGS!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Calling Santa

We went for a trip to the mall to visit Santa to tell him all we wanted for Christmas. After we saw him, Madison and Matthew Ray discovered they forgot to tell Santa everything they want. So, Aunt Micah picked up her handy cell phone and made a call to Santa. Her first call accidentally reached an elf so we had to make another call to get to Santa. Here's a video of the Santa call and some pictures of our visit with Santa.









Decorating at Uncle Jeff's and Aunt Micah's House

Since we are still in the states and it is getting closer to Christmas, we are getting to help decorate at our family's houses. It has been so much fun for all of us but we are itching to get back to our house to decorate. Here's the fun we had at Uncle Jeff's and Aunt Micah's house.

Thanksgiving Day




Here's a slide of how we spent Thanksgiving Day. We made the trip to Jackson, TN from Arkansas with Stacey's mom and sister taking the kids in one car and meeting Matt's sister and brother-in-law half-way to get the kids and Stacey driving another car with Matt lying flat in the back seat. (What would we do without family!!?? :)) We tried riding with Matt reclined in the front seat but he was too sick to travel like that. Now I know some of you are thinking, "Why in the world would they drive all of that way with Matt so sick???" Well, we had to make the trip before Friday morning's doctor appointment in Tennessee. So, we took our time, got to Jackson and moved Matt from lying down in the car to lying down on Ryan and Sara's couch. He didn't feel like eating all day but was grateful to be able to see everyone standing over him. By 9 that night Matt was hungry so I fed him leftover Thanksgiving dinner while he laid down on the couch! (Boy, he has his work cut out for him when this is all over!!LOL)

Kickin' Back with the Kings

Well, it's been a week or so since we have been with a strong internet connection. Now it is time to catch you up on what's been going on.
The day after we arrived in the states some of our dearest friends, the Kings, drove all the way from Pensacola to Cabot, Arkansas to see us. They were on their way to see family in VIRGINIA for Thanksgiving and decided to drop by here first. (SOOOOO NOT ON THE WAY!!!) It meant so much to us for them to make that long trip with their 3 kids. All of these pics were taken outside because that is all the kids wanted to do the whole time! Our kids miss the grass and leaves and the day was just beautiful for them to catch up on some good-ole playin'. Thanks guys!!! We love you!!




Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Update on Matt


I took Matt to a neurologist yesterday. The good news is that they ran the test that ruled out the hemmorhage we had feared. The bad news is that they still are not 100% sure what is wrong. They suspect an "exercise induced migraine" but are going to run other tests to make sure. We will take a migraine over a brain bleed any day! He was scheduled for another test today but he was too sick to even get out of bed. The doctor has now given him some major drugs to help with the pain and he will re-schedule for another day. Until then, please keep praying for his recovery. I am really starting to feel sorry for him! LOL (For all of you who know me and know I don't have the gift of compassion and mercy, you can go ahead and laugh!)

The Trip to America

We made it to America without any glitches. Matt had to ride with a medic and they got to ride in first class while the kids and I sat in economy! But really, all went well and the kids were great. The medic, Mr. Rob, even let me sit up in first class with Matt for a little while. He was such a sweet man and the kids thought he was the greatest! Here's some pics of the trip and some "sticker fun" the kids had with Mr. Rob.

The kids travel so well! Mr. Rob playing with the kids! He even let them put stickers all over his face.


Matt and Rob became great friends. We finally made it to Little Rock!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Unexpected trip to America!!!!


Well, we leave in 7 hours on an unexpected trip back home to America! Just look at this view of my parent's house! Oh, it looks so clean, homey and peaceful! I can't wait! I think I am just going to roll around in that grass!(ha) Maybe I will leave that for the kids!

We have so many emotions going through us, we don't know quite what to expect. We will be going home for a doctor's visit for Matt. We are anxious about the trip and about the tests he will be having while there but we are also sad to leave our friends (really family) here and then we are so excited to see our family and friends in America! Matt has had his roller coaster of feeling good and then feeling bad while I have the roller coaster of every emotion you could dream of!

For all of you who check our blog regularly and for those who have emailed and called giving your prayers and support, we THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts. I will be posting again in just a few days to update you on Matt's test results. When this is all over, I have one more story to post for you! You won't believe it when you read it!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Everyone in Harmony! :)

Listen to this harmonious Birthday singing! :)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Birthday Week!



This week is the week for birthdays at our house. Stacey, Madison and Matthew Ray all have birthdays the first week of November. The festivities began with a party at the pre-school for Madison and Matthew Ray, followed by a party at our house with Mr. Siede and his family (shown above). We will have the final party this weekend at McDonalds! It is sure to be a great event. I have heard that McDonald's parties here are AMAZING!!! We will post the great PIRATES AND PRINCESS PARTY in a few more days!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Snappin' Beans


I have done some snappin' in my past but nothing like I have done since living here! There is so much available here but so many of our "ready foods" are so much more expensive. For example, I found velveeta the other day and saw that it cost $11. Oreos were $10! And a can of good tasting green beans can run $3-5. So, needless to say we are learning how to buy, cook and eat without breaking our budget. One way we do this is buying fresh green beans. I can buy a kilo (2 lbs) for about 25 cents!!! Pretty cheap, huh? One of Madison and Matthew Ray's new chores is snappin' beans. So far, they love it! We will see how long that lasts! :)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Matthew Ray Gets Glasses



Last week we made an appointment for Stacey and Meredith to see the eye doctor. We have never had Meredith's eyes checked so we thought it was about time. We went as a family to meet our new eye doctor here. We were told to come to our appointment at 7:30 PM (yes, that is normal here in Egypt!) We arrived a few minutes late (which is also normal here) and we saw the doctor at 9:15 PM (again, normal!) We entered the office and just planned for Meredith and Stacey to be checked but the doctor said it was good to start checking children's eyes at around 3 or 4 years of age. So, Matthew Ray volunteered to go first. The doctor checked his eyes and then gave a sigh...He said, "We will have to give him glasses." We were shocked! He never complained! But apparently he has a condition where he is farsighted and doesn't see well up-close. The doctor said that putting glasses on him now will keep him from becoming "cross-eyed" and then he might not need them in a few years. At first, Matthew Ray was a little worried about people laughing at him but he has been a real trooper! And of course, we think he looks adorable! (kinda like that little boy on Jerry McGuire, don't ya think?)

The Performance

It's short but VERY SWEET...Madison and Matthew Ray were a hit during the pre-school performance. We have no idea why Madison got to hold her own mic. We think everyone was so amazed that these two little "white kids" were singing their little hearts out in Arabic! We are so thankful for their school. They are taught in Arabic all day and the best part is that they are learning Bible stories and songs and learning how to pray in Arabic. (Oh, to have their young minds!!!) :)

video

Friday, October 26, 2007

School Party

Madison and Matthew Ray had a program at their school today. It was actually a graduation program for those going to k-5. Matt got to teach on the subject of raising children to the Coptic parents that attended. He started with one sentence in Arabic and then used a translator! :) Here are a few pictures of this special day. Stay tuned for the video of them singing in Arabic with their friends!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Matthew Ray Learns to Whistle!

Matthew Ray is growing up so fast! One of his friends at school taught him to whistle. Notice how he licks his bottom lip before each whistle. His friend told him that licking the bottom lip is the key to a good whistle. Aren't three year old's smart??
You will also notice how Madison loves teasing him. Don't worry-he gets his share of teasing in with her, too!

video

Monday, October 15, 2007

Dog Sitting Part 2

video

Gameela showing her tricks!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Dog Sitting




A friend of ours had to go away for the weekend and she asked us to dog-sit for her. The kids were so excited to be able to have a pet for a few days. We have had our history of pets but they never seem to work out. I just can't see having to feed and clean up someone else's poopy around here!!!! But the last two days with Gameela (meaning "beautiful" in Arabic) have been a lot of fun. She is really a neat dog. She is so smart and can do so many tricks. Thanks "H" for letting us keep her!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Hollywood...Here We Come!!!

video

It is a holiday weekend here so we have had some "down time" and it has been a lot of fun. One of the favorite pass times for the kids is dressing up and making up plays. The title of this particular play is "The Prince and the Princess." As you can see, Madison loves the camera (note her looking straight into the camera.) You can't see Madison when the witch said she was going to kill her but she was clapping her hands and when I asked her why, she said, "Oh, that is Matthew Ray's hint that it is his time to come out and save me!" We had a long laugh about that one! Arent' kids fun???

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Kid's Performing


We have been so busy with language lately that we have had little time to blog. We did get to go to a wonderful conference last week in the middle of the desert. It was a fun time. Here are some pictures of the kids singing some songs at the conference. They sang some in English and some in Arabic. Their Arabic is amazing!! We are so proud of them.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Little Language Confusion


Retreat...Trick or Treat...Happy Holidays...Happy Pumpkin Day...Throwing Leaves at friends...How do you think a three year old little boy can lump all of these in one very long conversation that has lasted for 2 days now. It all started yesterday morning when I got out some fall decorations for our dining room table. We were having some friends over that evening so we thought it was time to get some fall things out since the air is a little cooler now. The kids were so excited to help decorate. We put 3 pumpkins, fall leaves, candy corn (sent to me by some GREAT people!! thanks, guys!) and a table cloth on the table. After the whole 5 minutes it took to decorate was complete, Matthew Ray ran and turned out all of the lights, closed the curtains, and hid behind the couch. I said, "What are you doing, Matthew Ray?" He said, "I am hiding here and I will jump out and yell at our friends "Happy Pumpkin Day" when they get here!!!" I explained to him that they would not be arriving for another 5 hours. After being a little disappointed, he played for the rest of the afternoon. The door bell rang when our friends arrived and Matthew Ray wanted to help answer the door. When I opened the door, he yelled, "Happy Holidays!!" We all laughed and I tried to explain to our friends what had been going on in his little mind.
This morning we were getting the kids ready for school. We were telling them that they only had 2 days of school this week and then we leave for a retreat. Matthew Ray started jumping up and down and said, "Yeah!!! We get to go to the RE-Trick or Treat!!! I am going to throw leaves on all of my friends and jump around!!!" Of course, we tried to explain the difference between retreat and trick or treat and we also tried to explain that we didn't think there would be any leaves to throw on his friends but all of that didn't seem to bother him a bit. He's just glad to get a break from school and in his little mind all of these phrases put together make perfect sense. I am beginning to understand him so much more because this is exactly what my brain is doing with ARABIC!!!!
<>

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Is This How They Really See Us?

We were very surprised and excited as we were walking down a street near our home and found a new shop had opened. The floor and walls were covered with canvases of partially and completed paintings and drawings. As we stood outside the shop, it became apparant to us that the man in the center of the room painting was a gifted artist. After a time of admiring the different portraits and skillfully created scenes we inquired about the cost of a family portrait. After agreeing upon a price and delivering a family picture from which the artist would craft his masterpiece, we began to wait with anticipation for the final product. We were disappointed several times as we would arrive to find the shop closed during normal business hours (7-11 pm). Finally the day came when we found the store open and the owner inside. We paid the final price and the artist delivered his product. However, when we unrolled the canvas we discovered a picture that looked like the Dunavants had been genetically crossed with the Adam's Family or maybe even the Munsters!!!! Do they really see us this way?


Saturday, September 08, 2007

Finger Painting Fun!!!

Some VERY PRECIOUS (: person (Mimi to be exact) sent finger paints to us! Thank you very much! I am saying this kind of sarcastically.(no, very sarcastically!) Some of you may not know but I (Stacey) don't approve of play dough and paint! Don't get me wrong, I love for my kids to have fun but clean fun! I know is sounds mean but that's just me. Anyway, we had a finger painting afternoon today and it was really great fun! The kids had a blast and I (Stacey) had a blast watching their creativity. AND and I didn't even mind cleaning it up!




Thursday, September 06, 2007

My Altered Self (Stacey)

I have a really good friend here who has tagged me to blog "my altered self", describing to you the things that have changed about me since moving overseas. I didn't think I had changed that much since moving here 8 months ago but I surprised myself after I started typing!

1. I haven't driven a car in 8 months. We ride in taxi's here for transportation and we will do this for at least one more year. I don't know if I will remember how!

2. I no longer wipe down my faucets in my kitchen and bathroom sinks to make them shiny.(sounds kinda silly as I type this) Reason 1-I don't even think about it anymore because I have NO TIME! Reason 2-My house helper cleans my bathrooms at least twice a week.

3. I never thought I would leave my children at a run-down, ugly building with broken toys. Madison and Matthew Ray go to a Hadonna (daycare) that is really pitiful looking BUT the people are great and they love it much more than the first one that was beautiful but where they didn't get to run!

4. I have always been pretty relaxed about leaving my kids with others but I still was protective of them. Here I put all three of my children in a taxi alone to go to and from school!

5. I know this one may come as a surprise to some of you- I don't worry about my hair anymore! I can't worry because it is always being blown to pieces in the unairconditiond taxis. I fix it in the mornings and then never look back!

6. Matt and I have always worked close together but now we are REALLY WORKING CLOSE TOGETHER! We are in language right now and we have the same teacher at the same time in our home. We are together day and night. We love one another greatly but we are having to adjust to having each other around so much. :)

7. I think I would have panicked back in the states if my car had been broken down on the side of a major road with all three kids in 100 degree heat. For some reason I don't panic here-I am becoming quite the pro-only 2 taxi breakdowns this week!

8. I never would have dreamed that I would learn to speak another language. (I hated Spanish in High School because I thought it was so backwards and hard!) Now I am making (some) headway in the 2nd most difficult language in the world! (and I kinda like it!

Now I am tagging any of my camp friends who are now living overseas!

Coptic Wedding

When we visited the Coptic church we were invited to sit in on a Coptic wedding. Here's a clip of part of the wedding. All of the chanting is some kind of wedding song. There was this much movement by people on the stage the entire time! I am having a hard time commenting on this clip. I really don't know what to say except that it was all very strange. Tell us what you think!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Visiting a Coptic Church

Priests can be cool, too! Doesn't he look like ZZ Top?


We had some friends here this week and we were able to visit a Coptic church. Getting there was an event, as usual. The area was far from our home and we took a black and white taxi to get there. When we arrived to the edge of the town, the taxi driver told us that he would not drive into the town because the roads are very bad and the smell is even worse. So, we rented a tuc-tuc (small motorized vehicle) and proceeded through the town. We stuck out like sore-thumbs for sure! I don't think very many "white" people visit there often. On the way we passed small children running around without shoes along with livestock running freely beside them. One local man was throwing up on the side of the road. We assume some people just never get used to the smell.
After a very eye-opening ride, we arrived at the church. First we were able to speak to the church members. They were so warm and welcoming to us. We then were able to meet the priest and his wife and we spent some time with them over dinner at midnight!!!! It was such a great time that we decided to go back the next night. We took a break today but we are ready to see our new friends again soon!!

Us with a Saint and Jesus behind us.

The priest and his wife. (they are our age!)

Matt and the priest along with some dear friends.

Matt doing what he loves with a very interested young man in the church.

The group shot.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Scrapbooking by Blogging

I used to scrapbook all of the time with some really great friends. It was such a fun and relaxing time for all of us. Now that we have a digital camera and computer and I no longer live near those "scrapbooking friends" I hardly ever get prints from the pictures that I take. Blogging is a way that I keep up with our life now and I love it. So, when I put a new post up I am always trying to find creative ways to blog it. I have a folder on my desktop designated for pictures of each of our children. I put pictures in the folders that make me smile. Here are three slide shows of those folders.










Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"We are walking behind Jesus"

Madison and Matthew Ray learned a song at their pre-school. These are the words in English:

Jesus, I am walking behind You,
And the people are looking at me.
When the people see me with You,
We hope for them to be with You.
In my eyes, I am always seeing You.All of Your heart has compassion.

Here they are singing it for you!

Meredith's Photography




Several of you have asked for more pictures from the city. We forget to take our camera everywhere we go so we had Meredith go down and take some shots that she thought you might enjoy. All of these pictures are on the street right under our apartment. Meredith buys eggs, milk, soap, etc. from some of these shops. She is now able to use her Arabic and can ask for most anything. If she buys too much, she just has them deliver it to our apartment! The men in the little grocery shops sell items to Meredith several times a week. They were so proud to have Meredith take their picture.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Matt Forgot!!??

As you may remember, we took a family vacation last week. At the end of the vacation Stacey became ill and came home a day early, leaving Matt with all three kids and the responsibility of packing everything up and getting it back home. Matt and the kids had a great last day playing together. When they arrived home, Stacey was feeling better and began unpacking the luggage only to find that Matt forgot all of the "hang-up" clothes and all 5 passports at the hotel! At first, there was great frustration but this was soon followed by...."Hey, let's go back next weekend-just the two of us!" We made a call to some GREAT friends who VOLUNTEERED to keep our kids while we were gone. (THANKS, GUYS!) When we told Mr. Siede about the whole incident, he said, "Sure, Matt forgot!!?? He just wanted to go back alone with Stacey!"

Anyway, here are the pictures from the "mini-couple getaway." Matt played golf for the first time since we have been here and Stacey was glad to caddy.




Here's the beautiful view from our hotel room!