Tuesday, February 21, 2012

it's just different...

There's random things that are just DIFFERENT here:

-no voicemail on cell phones .. seriously.  Most people either text when they need to leave a message, or you just call back the random number that called you to see what whoever that was wanted.  (<--I think I love that sentence).
-phone numbers have no dashes.  My phone number is 0508729535 .. sometimes I go all "American" on the people here and write it like this:  (050) 872-9535 .. but no one does that.
-most restaurants don't serve alcohol. 
-most movies that are shown, even on TV, have Arabic subtitles.
-dryers suck .. I'm serious.  At least mine does .. I mean, it dries my clothes, but you have to empty the water tank (it doesn't have a proper exhaust thing, so it gathers the water in a special tank that you have to empty after every drying session .. yes I'm whining!!)  AND you HAVE to iron .. b/c the dryer is not a good "pretend iron" here like mine was back in the USA.  Good thing I'm in the twilight zone and can hire a maid to handle such tasks.
-candy tastes different... snickers .. twix, kit-kat, etc.  just doesn't taste right ..
-toilets flush weird .. no idea how to explain.
-Salesmen change their prices depending on your nationality.  People come to the door to sell ANYTHING .. one person, in particular, wanted to sell me rugs, which I need .. and he wanted to bring them to my house and sell them to me-- how great is that??  I'm serious!!  to have someone bring the shopping to me instead of me having to pack up 3 kids, head to a market, shop forever with my 3 adorable, yet constantly-needing-something children to find what I need??  I made an appointment with him until he said, "where are you from?" .. because the translation to that is, "how much can I mark up my prices?" .. when he asked me that I said, "Oooh, bummer .. nevermind, I don't need your carpets" .. good for me, right?  yeah, we still need rugs.  whatever.

more to come .. til next time ..

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Good Day ..

It's 8:00, I just got the kids in bed and now I'm listening to the Call to Prayer via the mosque that's about a block away.  It doesn't bother me so much .. if anything, it's a good reminder to spend some time praying.  I'm grateful for this international experience .. it really gives perspective to the things that matter.

Speaking of things that matter, today after Paige got home from school (our neighbor has been bringing her home on Sundays and Mondays .. she's an angel) we loaded up on the bikes (we got new bikes last week) and went for a bike ride.  The weather here right now is PERFECT .. it gets warm during the day .. starting to need sunscreen .. and then cools off in the evenings.  It's perfect weather for late afternoon bike rides. 

The "family bike ride" thing is brand new for us.  Paige got going on her 2 wheeler on her 6th birthday (September) and Brooke was quick to follow soon after .. we were just starting to go for bike rides before the winter came in Colorado, so it's such a treat to REALLY get moving.  Max LOVES sitting in the carrier behind me .. and speaking of "behind" he likes to pull my pants down while I ride so I'm mooning the world .. he thinks it's hilarious to expose me .. can you see it?  He laughs so hard that I can't get mad at him .. but I can't (ESPECIALLY HERE!) ride showin' "what I got" to the world, so he has to get in trouble  .. is this TMI??  I think it's so funny .. and so naughty .. and I just shake my head.  What would our lives be like without Max to keep us on our toes?!?

Okay, back to the topic:  On our ride, we saw a couple of the neighborhood pools that we can go to any time .. we played at the park and got WAY too much sand in our shoes .. swinging, sliding, riding, playing .. it was just SO FUN to be with the kids in our new neighborhood .. I've been missing the PLAY part of our life here .. it's been all about getting settled, which we're still not quite, but it'll come .. 

Anyways .. Paige was done riding after a while and wanted to go play with her friend next door, butt (hee hee) Brooke wasn't ready to quit yet.  We decided to let Paige go next door to play and then Brooke, Max and I took off for another round around the neighborhood.  (Brooke is such a stud muffin on her bike .. you should see her go .. she goes as fast as she can, she challenges herself to go up and down grassy hills, she goes up and down the curb just to see if she can .. and at one point on our ride, she took a turn a little fast, her wheel slipped and she crashed .. cried for about a minute, and then hopped back on without looking back .. she's FOUR .. it's fun to watch). 

As we were riding, I just took it all in .. it was so refreshing to just BE with the kids, enjoying them, enjoying life, and focusing on what's important, instead of what's temporary.  Today was a good day.

A few random details to get you caught up:

-6 of the 9 rooms have curtains hanging.  I love most of them, but am living with the others .. I've never done curtains before, this was a brand new experience .. I told Mark today that I'm so glad that we get to "practice" these things in this temporary house in Dubai vs. our "forever" house elsewhere. I can deal with what we have, but I definitely learned some things this time around!  I'll get around to posting pictures soon .. 
-we have furniture in every room except for one (and that room is like a formal living room, so no rush to get it furnished for now, plus its where the sliding glass door is, so it's kind of like a big huge mud room for now. 
-still need rugs
-still need lots of accessories (baskets and things to make life more functional)
-I'm hoping to hire a LIVE IN MAID soon .. can we say "Twilight Zone"???  I can't wait.
-Mark went to China a few weeks ago, Australia after that trip .. his travel is frequent, which we were expecting, and not horrible -- so far, so good, but we miss him a LOT while he's away!
-Brooke starts gymnastics tomorrow
-We're going to take Paige to the Polo Club on Thursday night to inquire about horseback riding.  She is so excited!! 
-I put Max on a waiting list for a nursery (mother's day out) at a great place called Seashells right by the girls' school.  Great location and great facility .. we'll see what happens!
-I went to the Dubai Mall last week and shopped at Pottery Barn!!  WOO HOOO!!  love me some Pottery Barn!!
-I'm starting to be able to feel my way around places while driving to/from school.  I still have no sense of direction, but I'm getting there -- it feels exactly like calculus felt to me .. I'd work on a problem until I finally felt it sink in and truly "get" the process.  I'm still waiting for things to "sink in" .. but I can feel it getting closer. 

till next time ..

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Almost there ..

The IKEA delivery/installation team was here for 5 hours yesterday .. they put together 3 dressers, 2 night stands, a couch, a chair, a kitchen butcher block thing, a kids' play table, 4 sets of shelves and I think that does it. 


Last night Mark said, "I really like how our house is coming together" .. I do TOO!  I'll take some pictures this week and post asap!

Sooo .. let's see .. in my last blog I mentioned my dream .. the one before was when my homesickness started setting in .. I'm doing much better now, but still have my moments.  I'm expecting those moments to come and go as they please .. gonna let them. 

Life is definitely settling into a routine .. Brooke is going to start her first gymnastics class this Tuesday.   On Thursday, we're going to take Paige to the horse stables to inquire about riding lessons.  She also wants to play soccer.  Swimming lessons start at school this week (they take swimming as part of their PE curriculum out here).  Max is in Little Gym and I'm considering doing a "mommy and me" swimming class, but he's two, and doesn't like to be held in the pool, and the thought of doing a "mommy and me" class with him feels like torture .. but he needs to learn to swim too .. the kid will drown .. so I'm considering.  I'm trying to figure out exercise classes for myself so I can work off some of this "moving to Dubai" weight  (packed on top of the "Mark broke his leg and had 3 surgeries to fix it" weight .. which is another blog entry I've started writing).. I think in about 2 more weeks, it will start feeling like, "real life."   We've been here 7 weeks .. I'd say we're doing pretty good!

On top of all of those routine things, we still have more to do as far as furnishing the house goes.  The big thing is rugs .. we need several.  After that, it's just the things that will make life more functional and then the fun decorative stuff.  We do have one room that is not furnished .. but it's not a room we use, so I'm good with that for now ..

I had flowers planted in the front and back yard .. I have pictures of those .. here ya go: 

 backyard "before" 

The flowers getting ready to be planted


the backyard after . 

Here's a little closer look.  Those tall ones will grow and cover the wall, Insha'Allah. :) The middle ones are petunias that I'm hoping will billow out and fill up all of that dirt.

front yard "before" 

after. :) 

I love the flowers .. they make me happy.  

Well, it's Friday morning which means I need to go get ready for church!  Have a wonderful day!

til next time ..

Friday, February 10, 2012

a metaphor ..

So last night I had a dream that I was pregnant ..

I was uncomfortable, cranky, tired of the attention, just done .. think 3rd trimester with Max .. DONE.  I honestly don't remember a whole lot more about that part of my dream .. but what I do remember is having this sudden wash-over of pure, relentless, riding-on-the-clouds JOY when I pictured my baby's face.  I could see the precious little infant's face smiling with those perfect little tiny lips - you know the very first smiles, at the itty-bitty stage ... so perfect and heart-warming.  I could see it.

I was so excited and elated with the thought of having this new baby .. this new life ...  it gave me energy and a HUGE smile.  All I had to do was keep preparing for it.

till next time ..

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Feb 9th.

I can't believe it's been over a week since I last blogged .. in some ways it feels like yesterday that I wrote that last one and in some ways it feels like a month has gone by.  Anyways .. we're IN the villa now, and we're S L O W L Y getting settled.  There's SOO much to do!!!

Our clothes are still in piles, not put away, there's suitcases everywhere and I still have yet to find some key components to my wardrobe .. ie UNDERWEAR!!  Its hysterical.  I need about 20 more hours in each day .. and I need my kids to nap during all 20 of those hours.  THEN I might get some things done!  Who knew 3 kids under 6 would be so time consuming???

Speaking of time-consuming, I have to say that the commute to school .. although I mentioned in an earlier blog that it was a 10 minute commute .. takes FOREVER!  That 10 minute commute we took was on a weekend with no traffic .. it REALLY takes about 20 min, and THEN you have to find PARKING .. let me tell you .. the parking situation is RIDICULOUS .. Paige is done with school at 2:45, but if I'm not there by 2:20, I won't get a spot in the lot, and if that happens, we have to park in the dirt or find some place to squeeze.  Parent's double and triple park .. it's a mess.  SO, I'm usually there before the madness begins (believe it or not) and get a decent spot. So we leave the house by 2, to sit in the parking lot from 2:30-2:45 (I wake Max up from his nap .. he naps from 12:30-2 most days) and then usually get home by 3:15 .. bedtime is at around 7:30, so we have 4 hours to do homework, play a bit, eat dinner and then lights out. It's busy.  OH .. and I do the pick-up thing at noon for Brooke too .. so I have from 8 a.m. to 11:30 to get errands done .. Max in tow .. stores open at 10.   Yeah .. time is consumed. 

In other news, Mark gets home from China tomorrow night .. yes, China!!  He will soon be heading to Australia and next week he'll be in Abu Dhabi!  I think he's just commuting to Abu Dhabi for the day for a few days .. the man has GOT to be exhausted.  I'm so proud of him .. I really am .. I just know that he's impressing everyone as he goes in to lead and direct in this new role.  It's going to be so cool to see what happens in the eastern hemisphere with Mark Beach in charge .. this half of the world is about to get ROCKED.  :) I have GOOSE BUMPS!! 

So .. to get "real" for a minute .. I want to share that this week has been hard, emotionally.  I think I'm homesick for the first time in a LONG time .. Actually, I don't know if I've ever felt homesick before .. but man, I have felt it this week.  I just miss "home" .. whether its my Colorado home or any home at all .. I just want to be home .. and we just aren't there right now. 

...It's the little things .. like the things at the grocery store .. bandaids and medicines are different .. food is different and NOTHING feels easy .. driving is nuts - just very unpredictable .. I'm so used to the way the USA has mapped out roads and out here it's just totally different and very hard to predict where a road might go -- I don't know how to explain it, but ya know how in the US, if you "kinda know" where something is, you can probably get there if you just feel your way there?  Like, if someone told you that a really cool shop was behind Target in a teeny shopping center a few streets away .. you could feel your way there, right?  Here .. you'd get lost .. and you'd get stuck driving 20 miles in the wrong direction and have to take 10 right turns (because there's NO left turns here!) to get back to where to started just to give up.

.. it's not bad, it's just different, very different .. I'm ready for things to feel "normal" .. I crave comfort and predictability .. I want to know my surroundings and be comfortable in them .. and right now, I don't .. and I miss that.

Before this week began, my RA from my freshman year in college posted this on my facebook wall:
Well, it's about to get real, it is February. Just so ya know... God doesn't ever leave ya. He's with ya in those brief moments when home seems way way far away. He covers u. He leads you. He sings over you...and I'm praying you feel His breath. Luv u!
I so needed those words this week.  

Later, Kelly (RA from freshman year) wrote these words to me:
Don't hide your feelings. Feel them. Deal with them. Your babies will be feeling them too.. And you can help them process them. Be weak.. 
 I just love these words too.  I'm doing my best to just let the emotions happen when they happen and not shove them away .. I've gotta go through this, right? 

I'm definitely clinging to my faith right now - clinging to the best source of comfort and peace and consistency that I know .. I've said a few times before that I'm so grateful for God's steady hand, that is so steady beneath me as I flail about in this whirlwind of an experience.  I know He's smiling at me .. happy to give our family this opportunity, and watch us become who He's called us to be.  It's definitely a wild ride.

'til next time ..

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

disclaimer:  I wrote this quickly and didn't proofread ... enjoy!

I can't believe it's already Wednesday ... this week went FAST .. TGIThursday tomorrow .. seriously. 

(pretty funny eh?  love it!)

Soo .. at the beginning of the week, Mark cashed his furniture allowance money and Mama got BUSY shopping.  I bought appliances (fridge, stove, dishwasher and washer/dryer) furniture for our family room, a kitchen table, a bedroom set for Mark and me, Paige, Brooke and Max .. bedding for everyone but Brooke (Brooke gets the cute stuff from home) .. pots, pans, dishes, silverware, knives, cooking utensils, kitchen towels, pot holders, shower curtains, bathroom towels, a few rugs and man .. THAT IS JUST THE START .. We're moving into our Villa on SUNDAY .. PRAISE THE LORD!!

I'm definitely having fun getting the new stuff for the house, but let me tell you, the kids are NOT having fun.  ha ha .. I try to do most things while the girls are at school, but poor Max just has to stay with me and bless his heart, he does pretty well .. but he's wanting "friends" and "toys" .. I had a hard time pulling him out of Brooke's class today.  I'm trying to find him a "nursery" (mother's day out) to go to, but like all of the schools out here, they all have waiting lists to get in .. it's maddening.

I was (with Max) at the coffee shop by our villa having lunch the other day when about 20 moms came in after a work out .. they all had kids in strollers .. and some were Max's age!  I asked one of the moms about it and she said that there's exercise classes EVERY DAY where the kids can go and play in the back (they don't have regular child care options like 24 hour fitness back home) .. I was THRILLED.  That will be a great option for both of us .. it'll give him friends and toys to play with and I can get a workout in! yay! 

I SO can't wait to be settled.

I've been meeting some friends through the girls' school.  I went to coffee with a group last week, and I'm heading to the park with all of them and their kids after school tomorrow afternoon too.  Their names are Melissa (from Spain, but lived in the states for a while .. speaks spanish and english really well), Aey (she is from Thailand and goes by "Aey" because her real name is way too long .. love it), and Annabelle (she is from Canada, but lived in Austrailia for 8 years before moving to Dubai .. she lives on the palm .. kinda fun). 

OH .. and I have to tell you about my neighbor, Nidhi (pronounced Ni-dee)!!  She is Indian, but lived in Dallas for like 9 years before moving to Dubai.  She came over yesterday and she is SO great ... I had hired a cleaning service to clean our villa before we moved in.  Nidhi asked me how much they charged me .. I told her .. and she marched over to them and, in Arabic, started telling them that they can't take advantage of me because I am her friend .. she went on and on and on ... I got a good rate.  LOVE HER. :)  She said that her neighbors on the other side are from Sweden .. or Switzerland, and the husband's name is Mark, and they have a son named Max ... hysterical.

I've hired a gardner .. we pay him 250 dirham per month to take care of the lawn.  He comes every day and waters the grass by hand with a hose,  cuts it once a week, and fertilizes when necessary.  For an additional cost, he will plant flowers (that he gets from the garden center for a discounted price), trees, do landscaping and wash the cars.  (250 dirhams is about $70). 

People come to the house to offer services like gardening and maid service all the time.  I constantly have business cards on my front door.  I'm assuming those things will slow down after we've been in the villa for a while.  Today a Sri Lankan woman came asking for part-time maid work.  As soon as we get settled, that service is next on the list .. not sure if we're going to have someone live-in or if we're going to do the part-time thing, but I'm getting pretty excited about it.  It's such a new concept.

Tomorrow at 9 a.m. a curtain guy is coming to measure windows and show me fabrics for our window coverings.  After that some time (Insha'Allah), the TV installation people will come.  The TV was delivered today, but the installation team comes tomorrow .. hysterical.

I think that's all for today .. Mark took a day trip to EGYPT today.. he gets home tonight .. he's actually been traveling quite a bit .. China soon .. went to Europe the 2nd week we were here, Oman, Abu Dhabi .. the man gets around!! 

sorry for typos, etc. 

...'til next time!