Thursday, March 22, 2012

You Can Still Be Spontaneous

This weekend was looking to be pretty dull and long! It is a long weekend (some holiday is on Saturday) and John of course is working and then I found out that Peyton's school was canceled on Sunday so that meant we would have four days of no school and not much to do with people being on holiday. I was trying to be optimistic, planning play dates, beach time and scavenger hunts and then I talked to my sister. I didn't realize that this coming week she was off of school and had no plans, she leaves the next week for a trip to Sri Lanka. So....I tossed the idea out to John and he told me to go!

So in one evening, I went from staying here to booking plane tickets, a car and hotel for 12 days in the United Arab Emirates! We fly out tomorrow morning into Dubai and I will do the same thing I did last time and drive to Abu Dhabi and spend a week there with my sister.  Then when she leaves for her trip, the kids and I will spend four nights in Dubai exploring, relaxing and having a mini vacation. Since this was so last minute...Peyton had NO idea! When she woke up this morning I couldn't wait to tell her and see her reaction and I only wished I had the video camera on. She was so excited and wanted to go now! I am hoping to do some more tourist stuff while we are there since I don't have much shopping to do (but a girl can always shop) and it is nicer weather now as opposed to the summer when I went the first time and our last trip was to spend time with Papa! We are looking to do visit the Grand Mosque for sure and hopefully one of the souqs I have been wanting to go to. I also want to take Peyton to a movie if there is one out. I thought it would be fun for her to go with her Auntie for some special time...or with me. My plans for Dubai are to take the kids swimming, play at the beach, go to the aquarium and the children's museum/zone and have fun with them! So....our weekend got busier quick and I am busy today doing laundry and packing (good thing I travel often with these two by myself so I have packing down and it goes fast) and picking up the house! And then tomorrow we go for 12 days of fun, Auntie Ashley, driving, no abayas and an occasional adult beverage! I am thankful that we can just pack up and take a trip away and am thankful to have family so close that we can escape to!

Even though we are leaving tomorrow and have tons to do, we still took time and played at the beach today. I had planned on taking the kids to breakfast and then for a walk along the beach for sea shells. Well, that walk turned into kids walking into the water, getting soaked and playing in the sand and having a BLAST! They both had so much fun and Graham was covered in sand! I love the beach, I love taking the kids to the beach and it is my favorite part of living here. We are such a short walk from it and people pay big money back in the States for that and we pay a nominal fee for our house by the beach! I love that the beach is a new experience every time you go. The tide is never the same, the sea shells look different, the horizon, water color, is always different and gives you a different feeling and experience. The beach is soothing to me and even with kids and the insane amount of sand that comes home, the mess, the baths and the work involved...I love it! And as you can see....they loved our outing as well!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sports Day

I have said it before but it is worth repeating Peyton's preschool teacher is wonderful! We are so thankful to have found her and appreciate everything she does for the school. Yesterday she organized a Sports Day for the kids. This was on her day off (we don't have school on Wednesdays) and she did it over two weeks...the older kids last week and the younger ones today. She made delicious Indian food/snacks for the moms, had snacks for the kids, medals and went above and beyond. We are so thankful for all that she does for the kids!

I had someone come watch Graham so he could have his morning nap and I could focus on Peyton and it was tons of fun. She was much more in her element and in a better mood than the ballet night and I enjoyed my morning with her! She was an all star in the ball/spoon race and won that!

Here are some pictures from the day...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

First Ballet Performance

Practice leotard, sweater, shoes, tights and bag...$100

Lessons for 3.5 months...$150

Recital Tutu and Headband....$18

White leotard and tights...$45

2 Tickets to Swan Lake performance...$5

Flowers for ballerina...$15

Babysitter for baby brother...$17

Seeing your ballerina melt down before, during her dance and perform 60 seconds of the whole recital.....priceless?!?!

After weeks of doing great going to ballet, a fabulous dress rehearsal the night before and being incredibly excited all day...ballet recital night came it was a bomb! 

Peyton feel asleep on the way to pick up John and so she napped for about 45 minutes in the car. Rule of the day....when Peyton naps in the afternoon she wakes up miserable and cranky and sure was bad. She finally woke up and got out of the car and just started sobbing which defeated all the work I did to put her make up on and keep her from touching it for the past hour before we left. She agreed for me to walk her backstage and we sat there forever talking, reassuring, talking, pleading, bribing and finally I was able to leave. I prayed a prayer that she would be able to do it, calm down and have fun and then just before it was about to start I see someone holding her and looking for me. I walk down in front of the whole theater during the welcome message and head backstage. I talk to her, convince her to dance for me and I would stay back stage and watch her and wait for her. She went and essentially stood on stage looking for me the whole time...take a look....she is on the far right...behind some kids looking off the stage for me the whole time...

After her brief but very moving performance...she rushed into my arms. She was proud of herself but I could tell that she was not going to leave my side. I had mistakenly read the program and thought that the little kids only had the one dance besides the last part where everyone comes out and bows. The helpers asked if I wanted to stay backstage with her...probably to see if I would convince her to do more and I said no, not realizing that there was another dance for her class and we went and sat in the audience and watched. I am kicking myself for not seeing if she would have done the second dance but I didn't know there was one and I didn't want to sit backstage for an hour to have her go out and bow. 

She LOVED watching everyone and sat very still and then we left at the end. She did give me and John a hug and told us she loved us in the middle of it which was pretty sweet.

When we left she received her flowers I got for her earlier in the day and she was very proud of them. We tried to take some pictures and then came home. Not how I thought the day would go at all! I wish I had stayed yesterday during dress rehearsal and taken a video because I know she did great then but how would I have known that today was going to turn out how it did!

Oh and because my plan to take pictures outside before the performance was ruined due to some unforeseen circumstances, I tried to get some pictures when we left...which as you can see did not work and I essentially got some of the crappiest pictures I could possibly get of my ballerina. I think I might make her wear her outfit another day and let me take real pictures of her.

Oh well....she did look pretty precious in her tutu and....tomorrow we are hoping for better success at sports day at school and then we are off to ballet again on Saturday....

Update....someone posted some pictures from the rehearsal the night before and I have a cute one of her dancing....I know there were several other people who stayed to take pictures so I am looking forward to seeing those....

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Weekend Recap...First Steps and a Parade

I wanted to do a quick recap of this past weekend before the week kicked off and would get behind in blogging....

Starting with Wednesday.....Graham took his first steps! Totally took me by surprise! We were leaving for a birthday party and he let go of the chair and took two steps. I was so proud of him and while we were at the party he kept walking between me and two of my friends. He loved showing off his new skill! I tried to take a video but with only one person to help set him up, take the video and be there to catch him...the video stinks! I did manage to keep him up and he walked four steps to John when he came home from work.

Thursday was the Ras Tanura Parade and Carnival and it was awful weather for it...a light sand storm and super windy. We had a float for the Moms and Tots that we decorated Wednesday but I didn't go on it because I had no desire to be contained to a moving vehicle for 90 minutes with Graham and Peyton was in a cranky mood that day so I didn't send her by herself. The theme was Passport to the World so I dressed the kids up in their Canada gear and off we went. I also realized that we only have two American flags in the whole house which is the extent of our American paraphenalia. I told John he needs to get on that and help represent. 


How does a parade work here in Saudi...pretty much the have the horses...some camels...and trucks decorated and then golf carts decorated which is what a lot of people use for transportation around camp. 

Friday we were able to have lunch with John which was nice and other than that we just spent the weekend hanging out at home and entertaining the two little ones...solo! Turnaround is getting old and I am getting pretty tired/worn out but that is a different post for a different day! 

Also over the weekend we took some pictures outside and played around. I wanted to share a picture of  the family member probably least featured on the blog....Titus! He has been around much longer than either of the kids (we got him seven years ago) but as  I am sure it is the case with most pets...the kids kind of took over our life and attention and he is a little neglected. He is such a wonderful dog and beyond patient with both of the kids. He has his moments and behaviors that we wish would be different but when you have a dog that loves to play with the kids, puts up with them and is so look past those annoying moments. I love that he goes outside to play with Peyton all the time and will lay still for her to trace him in sidewalk chalk! And he is a great guard dog...the other night John thought he closed the front door when he went to the store but if you aren't careful it blows open, so sure enough it blew open. I came out of the bedroom about 40 minutes later and I see Titus sitting at attention at the open that it is an AWESOME dog! We love him!

And today we woke up to this lovely weather....a sand storm...also known as a Shamal. It brought 25-25 mph winds the night before and during the day and lots of sand. It was a stay indoors kind of day. I kind of laughed on the way to school though on how some kids have to go to school during snow storms and here I am heading out in a sand storm. Thats life in the Middle East!

This week is a little busy with Peyton's first ballet recital which we are praying hard that John can attend, sports day at school and hopefully Mommy getting back into a workout routine....I have been a little lazy since the challenge ended!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Saudi House Tour

When we first moved here in May I did a post of what our new house looks like here. I had the intention of putting up "after" pictures once we got settle and kept forgetting to do it. So, finally I made sure the house was clean and took pictures.

So...lets get started! 

Here is our floor plan to help visualize where everything is

I don't have an before picture of what the entry looked like but essentially it was nothing. Here is what our entry looks like now....

Currently I have our Spring branches in with Easter eggs hanging. Once Easter is over I will keep the Cherry Blososm branches and just take off the eggs. In the fall I have some nice orange, brown and red branches. On the wall is an etching that we bought at a Bazzar here of a Bedouin lady on a camel. We finally got it framed and up on the wall. The bookcase serves as a place to store everything...I have a birthday present on there that I need to give to someone, one basket is the dogs leash and ball and the other is where I store dry cleaning. Since it is not too big of a basket, it helps make sure that it doesn't pile up. 

Just off the entry is a large, rectangular living and dining room.



The room is divided into three purposes...the more formal living room which is above. We typically watch non cartoons in here and the occasional movie with the kids. Then there is the dining area which is below. We eat all our meals here and it has worked out well. I made sure to buy lots of different kinds of fun kid colored plastic place mats so we keep the table nice and we bought slipcovers for the leather chairs before we came which are awesome, just take them off and wash them.

My desk and laptop sit between the two areas. Not the most ideal place for an office area but it works and I can work on the blog while watching kids play in the playroom next to this room.

Off the living/dining room is the playroom and more relaxed living area. This is the room that we love having as we did not have this space in Texas. It has been awesome to have a play area.

Before- isn't it depressing....there was NOTHING in here for the first four months we were here!


Off of the playroom/living room is the kitchen. 



You can't do much with a kitchen in company housing so other than adding some accessories, a rug and a blind we tried to update it and make it not so bland. But if this was my house we would totally be knocking down cabinets to open it up to the playroom and updating counters and cabinets and floors and appliances!  But it works for us as is!

On the opposite side of the house is all the bedrooms (3) and the bathrooms (2). At the one end of the hall is the master bedroom and bathroom. 



Currently what is in our master is what we had in Texas which I loved but our house in Texas was much brighter, had beautiful wood floors and it felt bright and airy and just what I wanted. Here it just seems dull. So, I have been wanting to update it with some bright colors, add some reds and I am hoping to buy this duvet from Pottery Barn. 

John has kind of agreed to it but hasn't given me the full go ahead to order so I am waiting on that. I am hoping with that, a textured headboard in either a wood or even a Seagrass/basket material would add some dimension and something different to a pretty bland room.

Just down from our room is the second bathroom which is the kids bathroom and guest bathroom in one.



Also on this side of the house and down the hall are the kids two rooms. I completly redid Peyton's when we moved here and I love it. I probably like it more than she does. I bought everything from Pottery Barn Kids and most of the furntiture is from Ikea and the lamps are a combination from Ikea or Target.



And finally here is Graham's room which is essentially the same as it was in Texas minus the paint color. I am still so happy that my mom helped me with the curtains and bedding. We did have a cute bed skirt which you can see here but when we lowered the crib it didn't work. I am going to work on it and get it to fit on his big boy bed when he moves into that...hopefully not anytime soon.



After picture to come....whenever I have a spare moment it means he is asleep and I am not about to disturb him. But it looks almost identical to his room in Texas.....

That is it! Hope you enjoyed seeing where we live here in the desert!