Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Qatar sites

So settling in Qatar and adjusting to being a working mom has been a little tricky. Roger has been fighting sinus issues and the kids have been busy. But we are finally getting the swing of things again and I thought I would dust off the neglected blog to give friends and family a peak at what we are up to. 
First off is the Singing Sand Dunes. We went with friends for a Christmas gathering. It was amazing. Hiking up the sand dunes made me feel so out of shape! When you slide down, the sand starts humming as it rubs against itself, hence the "singing" part. We just missed a camel caravan that passed by. Desert sunsets are amazing!
Next, Evelyn pennyboarding around the Ceremonial Gates in Education City. The number one thing I love about Doha is all the unique and beautiful architecture. This is a perfect example of understated, modern Middle Eastern design. The Ceremonial Gates are just down the road from our schools and is where they hold events like graduation. It looks across a grass mall towards the Qatar National Convention Center, which incorporates tree shapes into its design. I'll have to take a picture of that next and my favorite zig zag buildings. 
Evelyn is an ace pennyboarder after a few crashes that left her with skinned knees, shins, ankles, elbows, etc. She is pretty tough! 
 These pyramids are also in Education City- our kids love them. They are actually skylights and air vents for an underground parking structure beneath- solid on three sides, open on the fourth. Edward loves trying to run up them.
These are some camels outside of the souk downtown. They smell like all livestock does. One of the coolest things we've seen here is police mounted on camels. Hopefully, I can get a picture of them some time! And there are camel races here I am dying to see.
 Evelyn loves the souk. Here she is at the spice market- we both loved how this spice mix is layered.
 This was amazing, a National Day parade we caught in the souk earlier this week. I feel so lucky to get a glimpse of another culture from time to time. 
 The souk has an incredible fine arts section. I'd love to go back when more of the artists are on hand. This was one of my favorite pieces- I'd love to see if they have a print, since this was taller than me.
 Here is a photo of us outside the souk. I love the architecture. It is magical all lit up at night. The souk has been restored and modernized. It has underground parking, which makes it accessible. It has traditional architecture and is clean and well organized.
 There is an opulent mall here called the Villaggio, similar to the Venetian in Los Vegas. Think luxury stores, canals with gondolas, faux Italian storefronts, cloud painted ceilings, VIP restrooms and an ice skating rink. We went ice skating with friends. It felt so Christmasy! The ice skating rink is the home of the Flying Camels hockey team. Edward had fun learning using these seals you could hold onto. Granted, he spent most of the time sitting on one while I pushed him around the ice!
Blog again soon!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Year!

Really trying to get pumped up, but I am just out of energy for making resolutions I'll half-heartedly carry out (exercise- I'm looking at you!) And let's face it- I wasn't really going to go on a 100% "clean eating" diet- despite buying some ingredients and printing a few recipes. And while I am back in school I'm probably not going to write a publishable novel. Sigh. I just feel old- like the middle aged mom that I am. Unambitious and worn.

But I think 2015 could be a banner year. Does not caring anymore bring about its own happiness? And there is a lot to look forward to. The big stuff like getting my elementary teaching certification and a teaching job, and having a kindergartner and young women in the fall. And the little things- like the joys of a family YouTube dance party or a sunset winter walk- both of which I accomplished today. Job well done, me.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Been a while

Yikes, was my last post really in March? Yep. I think life started going so fast and was so up in the air, I didn't even know what to say. But I've been itching to write again, so I might as well resurrect things here.

We left Bahrain at the end of June. It was surreal, even our last day it didn't seem like we were really leaving. I miss our friends there every day. And the weather now that it is cold and grey here.

We came home via the Netherlands again, and I am so in love with Delft. It is picture postcard perfect. I want a bike and braids and small three story canal house and geraniums in my window box and a fireplace and friendly canal ducks and cheese and chocolate for every meal and a corner bakery or flower shop and an Oilily wardrobe and Dutch friends to watch the World Cup with and to shop at Hema and a rail pass.

We lost Ev's yellow bear, which snuck out for a last minute sleepover. Our kind friends mailed him from the UK, and he made it safely back home. I was sure we lost him in the locker bank of the airport and would never see him again. His return is one of those small household miracles.

We spent the summer with family, had a blast at the beach. Then we worked on my brother in laws house a bit. We were waiting for the next step, confident something would happen. And it did. Our renters bought a house and moved out, so we moved back to our house in September.

Roger got a job in Royal. I am doing my teaching program. Ev fit right back in with friends from preschool, kindergarten and first grade like she'd never left. Edward started preK in October and is thriving. Things are good.

It was nice to experience the fall again. I didn't know how much I missed it. The leaves, the cool, golden afternoons and the pumpkin baked goods. Halloween decorations and trunk or treats. Ev and I were both Greek goddesses, Edward was a vampire. Thanksgiving with family. Eating smoked turkey- the best ever! American football for Roger. Ev got to experience Friday night lights with her friends- she is growing up so quick!

This time here is a blessing. I forgot how wonderful the people are here. How everyone was so happy to see us again. How the community comes together to celebrate. The charms of Farmer-Consumer Awareness Day and the endless tractor portion of the parade. Drinking fresh-pressed cider at the Harvest Festival. Putting up flags in the cemetery for Veteran's Day. The downtown Christmas tree lighting. Although that was so bitterly cold I jogged in place while waiting with the kids to see Santa because my feet were so numb. I welcomed the chance to buy some new winter things- after loosing a whole box of clothes in my moves. I was supposed to save it all for Christmas but can't resist wearing it all now, because baby, its cold outside. We are so lucky.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Life in Bahrain

Here is a catch up photo post of our life in Bahrain lately:
Walking around the corniche
 My morning walks
The oil wells at first light- for all the U2 fans
 Heavenly scented plumeria
My adorable nursery student on his way home from school
My favorite part of any commute- the road to the clocktower
 This pose!
 Evelyn's class put on a grammer musical and did an amazing job!
 She took this incredible picture of a dragonfly with my cheapo camera
She played her first basketball game
 And we went to Wahoo!
 And caught some waves in the wavepool
We loved International Day!
Things have been really busy- but really fun. So glad we get these everyday moments.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Why go?

Hello, My name is Becky and I'm an American living in Bahrain.

 “Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” ― Terry Pratchett

Today's expat blog challenge is to respond to this quote. I really like it because it rings really true. When I was in my 20s I had a chance to go back to Menlo Park, the elementary school I'd attended from K-6th grade. This building had been so big in my memories. There were three separate wings that stretched forever, a endless breezeway, a huge playground with tall, sloping hills on either side of the grass fields and a steep cement slope down to the parking lot. I remember chipping at that cement in first grade playing paleontologist with friends when the annual asphalt overlay job was sloppily done. I remember how huge and scary the gym seemed- mostly because I was horrible at PE. Especially climbing the rope- which seemed to stretch a mile in the sky. I was sure I would fall and die if I ever managed to get to the top, but never had the upper body strength or coordination to get more than two and a half feet off the ground. When I went back, I felt like Gulliver in Lilliput. Those slopes were barely inclines. The playground was small supermarket parking-lot sized. The hallways were quickly traversed. The gym ceiling wasn't that high. It was eerily the same and completely new.

I think we have to go away to appreciate home. I have really appreciated more about my past experiences for having left them behind. I've become more grateful for what I had, when it seemed so everyday life before. Like being able to easily visit family for the holidays or having a constant supply of Goldfish! And don't even get me started about how gorgeous a summer in the Pacific Northwest is compared to dusty dullness of the Middle East in summer. Even the air tastes green and alive.

The part about people seeing you differently rings true too. We were an All-American Family with our two kids, our mortgage, our middle class professions and our mid-sized auto. Going overseas instantly gives you a new "I'm adventurous and cosmopolitan" vibe. It made us more unpredictable. I think it helped our families think of us as more grown-up, even though it had been over a decade of marriage and career by that point.

I think if we would have stayed, I would have always wondered. Now I know. I know and when I do go home, it will be both with new appreciation and eyes wide open. I think I will see opportunities and possibilities I wouldn't have before.

If advising others considering going overseas, I would almost always advise for going. It is such a maturing, broadening thing. It could be the adventure of a lifetime that could last a lifetime or be a quick experiment that makes them appreciate how good things are at home. No wondering about a chance you didn't take. A win no matter what. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Making a list...

Hello, my name is Becky and I'm an American living in Bahrain.

Today's expat blog challenge is "something I still haven't seen in my expat country."

We've done pretty good. I broke out my 100 Things to Do in Bahrain guide and we've done a good amount. Still to do are the Beit Al Qur'an (a huge collection of Qur'anic manuscripts), the Rashid Al Oraifi Museum (a local artists inspired by the Dilmun civilization) , Shaikh Ibrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa House, the Bani Jamra Village (where they weave traditional cloth- I have actually looked a few times but can't figure out where to go), the oil museum, and the Al Dar and Hawar islands.

I also want to get henna done- Evelyn has several times but not me. And I want to eat a traditional Bahraini breakfast and drink liqah water (palm tree water). I'd also like to ride a horse here, just once, to satisfy my inner 10-year-old. And I'd also love to see a dugong. They are like manatees, but with a snout that points down- but I think they are pretty rare. I'd also love to experience a traditional wedding, but I don't know how I could angle myself into attending one!

Tastes like home

Hello, My name is Becky and I am an American living in Bahrain.

The expat blog challenge prompt is "tastes like home" and my answer is the following:

Kraft Medium Cheddar Cheese

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese

Pepperidge Farm Goldfish

Campbell's Tomato Soup (with grilled cheese made with Kraft Cheddar to dip:)

Homemade chocolate chip cookies (I use the Toll House recipe but the chips here are Hershey's)

These little treats taste like home and are worth the occasional splurge. I really tried to buy the English and Australian cheddars, but they just weren't the same. I make homemade mac once in a while and it is super rich and super good. But my kids love the easy cheesy goodness of a Kraft dinner. That bright orange cheese powder is hard to beat. And Goldfish- my kids love them some Goldfish. This last summer we went to the factory and bought a ton of these for super cheap. But here I spend $5 on the occasional small bag Thing One and Thing Two blow through in two days. Tomato soup and grilled cheese is an ultimate comfort food meal for me- not at all healthy but so soul satisfying. And homemade chocolate chip cookies are one of the most romantic gestures I can make to my husband. He LOVES them. Is there anything a big plate of fresh cookies can't fix? Not much!