Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Let's pretend today is a Monday

     I know, I know, Monday in America means the weekend is gone and there are at least 5 more days before the next one. Bummer, right?! In the Middle East Mondays are a work/school day, but it is not the start of the week. In some countries the start of the week is Sat. and in others it is Sun. The holy day here is on Friday. Yep, it is crazy trying to keep it all straight. SO, anyway, why am I pretending to day is Monday and not Wednesday? First, its because on Monday this week I was basically a walking zombie due to the fact that our dear Kristopher did not sleep Sunday night. (transitioning from the bassinet to the crib :/) Now that I feel rested I can finally post what I wanted to post earlier in the week.  
A fun read on Life in the Middle East
      Every Monday I am going to try to blog about something we are experiencing within the culture here. I will admit that I got this idea from the book, Mondays in the Middle East: The Lighter Side of Arabian Nights, by David Cross. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Cross's stories about adventures he had while living in the Middle East. The book made me laugh as it educated me on Arab culture. I knew after reading it that I wanted to create something similar.
This week's subject is: The Camel
    "A camel looks like God took all the left over parts he used in making all the other animals and mashed them up. They are awkward." My mother-in-law
Taken by Brett Seay Photography 2012
      Living in Egypt we saw a good number of camels in Giza, the area near the pyramids. But the number of camels there does not even compare to the numbers of camels we have seen living in the Gulf. We have seen bedouin women barter for them at auction, seen herds of them in the desert, just down the road from the Burj Khalifa (the current tallest building in the world located in Dubai, UAE) and watched them race! Being from Aiken, SC I have seen a couple of horse races, but camel racing is a whole different ballgame! Some of the best race camels in the world come from the Gulf. Racing camels can cost as much as $150,000! Another difference to horse racing is that camel jockeys are young boys. And I mean really young. Some even as young as 5! Really, after the age of 7, most boys are considered too heavy!! Its rather dangerous, as many boys get hurt from falling from so high up. Not to mention the speed a camel can get up to! 

Taken by Scott Nelson, Kuwait Racing Club 2004
   Camels have become a part of our daily life at home too. Instead of playing "horsey," Alexis climbs on Hans' back and says, "giddy up camel!" And you can even find camel milk in the grocery store. It comes in six flavors: date, cardamom, rose, chocolate, saffron, and laban (a kinda sour cream taste.) I can honestly say that I have not tried any...not sure if I want to. I don't even drink cow milk. Camel Latte, anyone?? Also, its pretty common to see camels riding in the back of pick-up trucks.  And often you can see up to three or four sandwiched together with their heads swaying in the wind! 

Alexis and Hans at the Zoo
Two camels in a truck
Camel Milk

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Spotlight on Alexis

     While her little brother is asleep, I want to take a moment and tell you a bit about Miss Alexis. (Let's see how much I can write before Kristopher wakes up! His naps are so short!) Well, Alexis is just a few months from turning 3! I cannot believe how much she has grown since we moved here. I know for much of my family and friends it has been difficult not seeing her everyday. I hope that this post helps a little...
     Let's see, where to start? Alexis has grown a good bit in stature. In the past month she grew a couple of inches, making her waist super tiny...The other day she was wearing 18 month shorts that were falling off! And now that she is potty trained there is no diaper making her have "junk in the trunk," and helping hold her pants up. ;) Potty training actually went a lot better than I thought it would once she was ready. Note: that is once SHE was ready! We tried before the baby came to get her to use the big girl potty, but she would get so mad at us for daring to interrupt her day to make her try to sit on the potty. She is a strong-willed toddler! We went cold turkey on diapers. Nope, not even using pull-ups. So far we have only had one night time accident, and I think that was because she was too tired to wake up.
     Things she likes to do: Run, dance, play super-hero, run, dance, cook in her toy kitchen, sing, run, run, play with tiny little figurines, run, play in the water, run, dance, play legos with her daddy, run, read,  play with little animal toys, use her imagination, go on lots of adventures, eat cake, dance some more, and TALK! She talks non-stop!
     She rarely walks, even inside of the house. She is always running! And she is fast too. As for dance, she enjoys all forms. She likes to pretend she is a ballerina. And she likes to do the robot. But her favorite dance is what she calls the "restaurant." It is basic line dancing that she learned at Texas Roadhouse!
     As for her adventures, she is always on a mission. It may be to recuse the elephant family from the river made out of a blanket, or it may be to be the doctor for a hurt truck. She has a huge imagination!
     Things she does not like: Pretty much most food :( She is super picky! I mean she won't even touch mac and cheese or mashed potatoes!  We try to make her at least taste everything once. But we have had a few throwing up at the dinner table experiences with that. Not fun. :( She is quick to tell you if she does not like something. She will say, "I can't like that right now," or "I can't like that tomorrow." She often says that about nap time! Lizards are another big dislike for Alexis.
     Alexis is also quite the social butterfly. Surprise, surprise, right? Wonder where that comes from! She really enjoys going to "school." Hans went to pick her up yesterday and found her sitting at a table with a bunch of kids. She was leaning back in her chair with her feet propped up on the table, just talking away! She told me that she has a best friend at school, "that cute, cute, cu-uuute boy!" HA! She is a hoot!

     This little girl sure keeps us on our toes! She is sassy! Last week Hans and I were having a conversation in the car and Alexis pipped up, "Um, I guess this girl is talking to you!" I hope that you have enjoyed reading just a little of what Alexis is like. She is always amazing us at the things she is learning. It is so neat hearing her use new vocabulary, in both English and Arabic. Also some Spanish, thanks to Dora. Her spunky and genuine spirit is infectious! She is so full of life! Now that I have this blog up and going, I plan to share many more of the adventures we have with Miss Lexi B.!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Our Summer, Part II

July: It's true, we never dreamed we would still be displaced in another country. Crazy thing is, we were just in the next country! But we could not get KG's birth certificate, which meant we could not apply for a passport. Without that little blue book we had no chance of crossing the border to get back home. Why could we not get go get his birth certificate, you may ask. We found out at the beginning of June that our original marriage license was not enough to prove Hans and I were in fact married. (it is illegal to have a baby here out of wedlock) So, we had to get our license attested on the SC state level, then on the DC level, and then on the UAE in DC level...After waiting for a month we assumed out docs got lost in the mail. Fail :( So, round two. July was spend waiting...
     Just because we were in a holding pattern did not mean we were not busy. We were busy adjusting to being a family of 4! People were not lying when they said the adjustment from one to two kids was tough! I felt like we never slept that first month! When one kid would finally go to sleep the other would wake up. Alexis did really well with the transition, however. She loves her little brother. When he is sad she sings to him, and she insists that he always has a paci in his mouth! (maybe it was because she loved hers so much!)
4th of July
     Also, we got to celebrate 4th of July together as a little family. The 4th is one of my favorite holidays. I think its because growing up it was the one time when my whole extended family got together and gorged ourselves on Gumbo and fresh seafood. I have so many fond memories of the 4th of July. So this year, Hans was determined to make it special for me, despite the fact that we were walking zombies. He got me a Dr. Pepper and pop tarts for breakfast! (I know, I know, a soda for breakfast...but it was a holiday that deserved American treats!) For dinner we got dressed up in our Red, White, and Blue and went to Chili's.

Aug: And, still not able to go home...Aug. was not typical as we had to adjust our day to day schedule around Ramadan (I will post more about Ramadan in another post.) Everything was pretty much closed until after 7pm. So no more going out to eat or to play at the indoor park. Thankfully we had some wonderful visitors come to help pass the time! Two of our dearest Egyptian friends came. We got to explore some of Dubai with them! Then the day after they left Hans' parents flew in from Thailand. Also, a ton of fun! For two weeks we got to spend time playing games, watching movies, and finding ways to amuse the kids during Ramadan. We went to the zoo three times during this month! It was a tad odd walking around the zoo at night, but we got up close looks at a lot of the nocturnal animals.
     On Aug. 23, our 4th anniversary we got to come home!! KG was finally granted a passport! It was such a great feeling driving into our town. After an entire summer away, it was great to finally be home.

Surprised to finally have a passport! :)

Fun times with Grandma and Grandpa

     Well, that was our summer in a nutshell. Fun, eh?! We have learned as a family we really do have to be flexible. Thank you all for your prayers for us during that time!

Our Summer, part I

Well, you may have picked up on the fact that our summer was quite the adventure. Here is a little overview of our crazy summer...

May: My pregnancy with Kristopher was a rather difficult one. I had trouble with my hips being out of line, which made walking very painful. Also, I was showing all signs of having an early delivery. So after talking it over with our Dr. we made a plan to move to the neighbouring country to be close to the hospital where we would deliver. I packed enough stuff to carry us through for about a week and a half, because I was thinking that after he was born later that week we would come back home within a few days. OH BOY, that is not at all how it played out! Not at all!
     Our "new" apartment was rather cozy. Other than the mosque speaker blaring into Lexi's bedroom window we felt comfortable. (random Lexi quote for whenever the call to prayer went off: "the mam's singing again!" It really scared her those first few days, and she was really worried that "the mam" seemed to follow us everywhere like to the malls and parks!) We spent everyday before Kristopher's arrival as if it was the D-day. And yeah, we did that for a month! haha! Because we were in the land of Starbucks, Papa John's, and a short drive to Dubai, we spend a lot of time out and about trying to keep Alexis entertained. And I was trying to walk this boy out! But the malls here are rather different than the ones back home. I have yet to go to a mall in the Gulf that does not have a mini theme-park play area! It just so happened that the mall nearest us this summer had an indoor ski slope, ice-rink, and playground. I guess when it is 120+ degrees out you have to do most stuff inside.
Trying to "bounce" KG out at the local indoor park

June: Still stuck waiting...but the beginning of June was not all bad. One of my best friends from America was coming to study language and was able to spend a few days with us! It was such a refreshment having her here! As for the baby boy growing in my belly, he was measuring big! I was still showing all the signs that I could go into labor at any moment. And you better believe I was more than ready! It was hot enough outside without the added baby belly ;) Finally June 19th rolled around. I had to call the Dr. to make an appointment because he never rescheduled me from the previous appointment because everyone thought for sure that Kristopher would have already come...see the issue? No one thought I would have carried him 40 weeks and 4 days! Back to the story. As soon as I walked in the exam room the Dr. said, "Let's have that baby today!" Then in a whirl-wind I was hooked up to monitors and having a final ultrasound. Apparently I had been having contractions that I never felt!? Go figure! About 4 PM I got my first round of induction meds. And with the help of "happy gas" Kristopher was born at 11:45 pm measuring in at 8 lb, 5.5 oz and 20 in. long! 
     **many of you may not know about why it was neat for KG to be born on the 19th. Let me tell you quickly... in-between Alexis and Kristopher we had three miscarriages. Last year we picked a day to remember the babies we never got to meet, and that day was, you guessed it! June 19th! So KG coming that day at the end of the day was really special for us**
KG at 3 days old

Two weeks

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Welcome to our New Blog!

      Greetings everyone! Super sorry for such a long delay in our blogging. For some odd reason I can no longer access our earlier blog; but perhaps this is for the best. This new blog will be a new start. I promise I will try my best to update it more than I did the previous one. But bare with me...I am adjusting to life in the desert, in the process of learning Arabic, and busy with a strong-willed toddler and a clingy newborn! So, if you want to know more about our adventures abroad check in every once in a while!