wherever you go


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Ironing

I just ironed for the first time since we moved here. In our previous compound we had a housekeeper who would clean and iron twice a week. I should have asked him for lessons.
Another mom here who is expecting her forth child recently told me she has a lady coming over to clean her place and could send her my way this week. I feel so spoiled having someone come over to do household chores, but it is so lovely.
I will put off something like doing the dishes but not let myself do anything fun (like sewing or reading) because I haven’t done the dishes, so I end up not doing anything at all. Which is silly. Why do I do that?
The house has been mopped twice during our first week here. Too bad the second time was because one of my children peed on the floor. Anyway, it’s notable because I’m not always that proactive about housekeeping. It’s something I’ve worked on for years, and I still struggle daily to keep my counters cleared off.
Having a housekeeper come in two times a week means that at least for a short while twice a week the house is straightened up and clean. It’s freeing. And I know it might not always be an option for us to have a housekeeper. I think I’ll embrace and enjoy it while I can.

Also, I’m writing this post on my iPhone. Our iPad and laptop are both broken and waiting for parts to arrive in order to be fixed. We are apparently gadget/tech junkies, and I miss having a bigger screen!
As soon as the laptop is working I’ll post about our move and continue fixing past photo issues. I’m looking forward to posting pictures for you to see!

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My oven is leaking.

Have I told you about how our house ‘leaks’?  It’s not really leaking; it’s more like it’s dripping.

It’s Humid here.  We are close to the coast, and if the wind is blowing a certain direction it gets very humid.  During the summer when it’s 115F (45C) outside it is just miserable.  We stay inside and hope all of our air conditioners (which are older than I am) continue to work.

The housing here, like the air conditioners, is old and poorly maintained.  Our roof is not insulated, and condensation gathers on the wiring (yeah…that sounds safe….) and drips from our light fixtures.  There are three lights that drip: one in Myka’s room, one in our room which drips on the end of our bed, and one in our dining area.  The humidity creeps in very vent.  My dryer gets wet inside.  The dampness comes into my washer, dishwasher, and oven too.  Usually I notice that the doors are very drippy and wet and the air inside is very humid and warm.

But today I stepped in a little puddle of water in the kitchen.  I looked around thinking it was from the sink or dishwasher, but it was coming from my oven.  What?  My oven was leaking.  So much condensation had gathered and dripped down the inside of the door that it dripped out and made a puddle.

We move in about a week, and then I won’t have to worry about all this dripping.


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Toys

Tuesday evening Myka refused to pick up her toys.  In the past I have put toys that were not picked up in ‘time out’ for a day, and usually the possibility of items going in time out is enough motivation for Myka.  But not this time.  She just sat on the couch. She didn’t care if all the toys went away.  So they did.

In a bit of a fit, because I was quite annoyed with this situation, I put all of the toys in boxes and toted them to my room.  No toys. No books.  No sheets or blankets to play with.  The only things left were the pillows on couch, plus some other pillows we store under the one cupboard, and….that’s it.

I was a little afraid that they would be crazy and clingy and climb up onto the table or counters or something – that this was going to backfire on me.  But they were just fine on Wednesday!  They ran around, played in the curtains, played with the pillows, crawled into the now empty cupboards.  There was lots of laughing, and no one seemed to notice that anything was missing.  Who needs toys?

Today I brought a couple dolls into the living room, and two reusable grocery bags made their way in there at some point but that’s all.  And you know what?! They fought more.  There were now dolls and bags to fight over.  Silly kids.  We haven’t watched a lot of tv.  We’ve colored more.  It’s been a good experience.  Myka did a great job straightening the room before lunch.  I think I’ll add things back in a little at a time, watching that things are being put away instead of scattered all over the place.

So who needs toys?  Apparently ME.  I’m thinking about getting a little kitchen play-set.  They are so cute!  Haha!  And I do think the kids would love it.


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Our Hospital Experience

A 7cm cyst was found on my right ovary, and I needed to have it removed before it burst, grew, or twisted my ovary. I’m pretty good at calmly dealing with things, and true to my nature I took this in stride and didn’t stress out. Sometimes I think circumstances deserve more of a reaction than I give them. Anyway, this post is about our experience with health care here in Saudi Arabia. Lots of firsts…

We were at the hospital seven times in about two weeks. And we went to McDonalds almost every trip. Haha! Not sure that’s really a good idea. In the past, I’ve only been in a hospital to have my babies, so that would have been a fine eating-out habit. Good thing we don’t have any more trips to the hospital planned.

Seven trips to the Saad hospital have given us some experience in getting around the place. Oh. My. Gosh. It is huge. And completely unintuitive. You don’t know where to park, where to go in, where you’re supposed to go once you’re inside…wow. The hospital is a full city block of buildings, most of them six to eight floors tall. Good thing everyone there was very, very helpful! The first time we went we must have looked extra lost (which we absolutely were..) and a guy walking in at the same time lead us to the area we needed. After that first time, we had a little bit more of an idea of where we needed to go, but we still ended up in the wrong building one time and had to ask lots of people for help.

I think the hardest thing was making an appointment. I talked to three people, never knew if they understood what I needed, had the Hardest time understanding them…I was exhausted by the time it was over. The first person just transferred me without saying anything. I explained a little bit more about what I needed to the second person; they mentioned a certain doctors name, but I didn’t understand anything else they said. And then they suddenly transferred me to someone else. The third person is who I actually made the appointment with. I must have said, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand,” a dozen times during our short conversation.

At one point she said “anything?”

and I was at a loss….what? Gah…I don’t understand……AGAIN.

She repeated it again. “Anything?”

Still not sure….

“Anything else?”

Ah! Yes! I mean No! Nothing else, thank you.

What a difference one word can make. It seems clear now. Now that I know that was the end of the conversation. Now that my mind isn’t overwhelmed with trying to figure out what someone else is saying and what I’m going to say and remembering what time my appointment is…. At the end of my phone call I was pretty sure I had an appointment. But not 100% sure… However, the hospital sends me text messages confirming appointments! Pretty handy. And they are usually in English, so that helps too.

Another time I was trying to get blood drawn after my appointment with the OBGYN, but appearently the insurance needed to approve something before I could have the blood drawn. We went to the lab, reception, pre admission, and back to the lab before deciding to go back to the OBGYN office to talk to the nurse and find out what to do. She said it was ok to have the blood drawn later at my pre op appointment. The insurance would approve it before that, and there would be enough time for the results to be available for the anesthesiologist. A lot of running around for a simple solution.

Speaking of insurance, all our costs were covered. All of them. That was pretty nice. There were things we had to pay up front for: some blood work, my OBGYN appointment, etc., but they later paid us back for these costs. You have to go back and forth, from place to place to pay for things sometimes. For example, the first time I was there they wanted to do a blood test. So the Doctor orders a blood test and gives me a paper. I take the paper to reception, pay for the blood test, and they give me a receipt. I take the receipt back to the lab/treatment area, and they do the blood test. So efficient. But this has been our experience lots of times here.

While the hospital layout is very confusing, the nurses are Wonderful! They make up of all the frustration I had while trying to find them. I was also really happy with my OBGYN. No women likes having to find a new OBGYN, and I was all the more worried about finding a doctor here in Saudi Arabia. But this lady is pretty awesome. Very nice, put me at ease, but also direct and didn’t waste time. She didn’t make me feel rushed, but her answers were direct and clear. I didn’t have trouble understanding her. She is from India but studied in the UK. So I felt confident in the people who were taking care of me.

The hospital was also clean. From the ER area to the doctors office to my hospital room, everything was clean, sanitary, and smelled nice. This was a concern after Stephen’s experience when having his blood drawn right after he got here. (Read about his fun adventure here: http://whereveryougoblog.com/2012/10/08/rubber-gloves/) That was at a different hospital. The Saad hospital in Dharan is about an hour away from home. It’s a lot of driving, but it’s worth it. I was not worried at all.

We had to be at the hospital at 6:00 am for my surgery at 10:00 am. We waited in what would be my recovery room: me on the hospital bed in my hospital gown (which are apparently the same lovely things no matter what country you are in), and Stephen on the couch. They had those extendable chairs that are supposed to be a sort of bed, and he tried to sleep there for a little while. When it was time to head to surgery, I got to lay in the bed and get wheeled around. That was a first. I went into the operating room right on time. I scooted from my hospital bed to the operating table. They put a mask over my nose and mouth and said cheerfully, “Deep breaths. Good night! See you later!” I took a breath. Nothing was happening. Hmm… Took another breath. Still nothing…no darkness closing in. No heavy eyelids, And then I don’t remember anything else until I started regaining consciousness! I was out.

I remember hearing conversations as I was slowing waking up. Most of it I don’t remember now, though at the time I understood most of what I heard. The one thing I remember hearing was someone telling Stephen that I wouldn’t be able to eat or drink for eight hours. EIGHT HOURS!?! I hadn’t eaten since the evening before. I didn’t know I would be without food for a whole 24 hours. I remember thinking, “What?! really?! no!” I was not happy about that, but I was surprised that I didn’t feel too hungry. I did get to drink water which is good because I would have been really uncomfortable and parched without it. The all liquid food wasn’t great, but the jello was edible, and the juice was refreshing.

Another thing that surprised me was the crazy, intense shoulder pain. My friend who had laproscopic surgery told me there was shoulder pain afterwards, but I had no idea. No. Idea. I hurt so much at times. I made Stephen massage it a lot. It isn’t actually the shoulder that is the problem. It’s gas from the operation stuck under the diaphragm. (They pump gas into the abdomen to create a more open area to work in.) The diaphragm and shoulder share a nerve center. Stupid nerves. Walking and moving around are supposed to help.

My nurses were all lovely, but one was extra special. First of all, she told me looked young for my age. I liked her right away! Then, during one of the times I was up during the night, she told me (and you have to imagine a bit of an accent), “I want to make you happy, so I arrange that you can have real food for breakfast. Real food, like a real person. No more jello.” Haha! I love this lady! She did make me happy.

Stephen stayed home on Tuesday. He makes me happy too. He was so helpful and flexible and caring though this whole thing. So very wonderful. I couldn’t have done it without him. I slept a lot that day and felt up to taking care of the kids on my own on Wednesday. We didn’t do anything, and I basically spent the day on the couch, but it went well. I took it easy for several days, and each day I felt a little better, stronger, and more like normal. I still don’t want Emery jumping on my stomach, but that was never all that fun anyway.

Our friends here were incredible; they stepped up and helped us through all the appointments and hospital visits. They came over and stayed with the kids while Stephen and I took our long drives to Dharan. They watched Myka and Emery for two nights so that Stephen could spend time with me in the hospital. They sent messages asking how things were going. Stephen posted on facebook that I would be having surgery, and the comments from people saying they would pray and that they were thinking about us meant a lot. I felt loved and cared for which is exactly what I needed.

Moral of the story: medical care is just fine here in the KSA as long as you’re in the right hospital, and having willing and helpful friends can get you through any situation.

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Busy

Lately, there have been two big things going on in our lives over here.  Moving and medical issues.

First: Moving.

In about a week we will move to the newer compound, to our brand new apartment there. I’ve started packing boxes of things we don’t use often.  There are about eight boxes piled in Emery’s room, but he doesn’t mind. I have used the bubble machine to buy myself some time to go pack things. And I may have to use it a couple more times.  I’m not worried though.  It will all get packed, and then we’ll move, and then I’ll get to unpack everything.

The new place is huge.  Three bedrooms, two living areas, an office, wide hallways…. There will be pictures; I promise.  I’m waiting until we move in to share what I think about the place, but I’ll tell you now that the hugeness isn’t a big plus for me.  It’s more to clean, harder to keep children in one place, and feels unnecessary.  First impressions can be misleading, and I’m looking forward to finding ways to make it our own.

Second: Medical issues.

I had an ovarian cyst.  Which is crazy because I’ve never had any medical issues at all.  It was unexpected.  It was large (7cm), so I had to have it removed.  Which meant I had to have surgery.  Yikes. I had my first surgery ever in Saudi Arabia.  It was laproscopic, so just three small incisions.  The surgery was last Sunday, and I’m recovering well with no issues and no complications.  It did slow down the packing, and we changed our move day from last week to next week.  That way I could help move all these boxes around.

Those are the big things. In my next post I’ll tell you all about our experience with the hospital here!