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November life and weather

It has finally cooled off around here! It is so lovely. Winter in Saudi is beautiful. Cool mornings, warm days. I can wear jeans and a sweater in the mornings and be comfortable.  I can open our windows which I love.  You know that feeling in the spring when you can open the windows, it’s warm, and you feel the breeze? There’s an awakening with the change of seasons – it’s that same kind of feeling here in the fall or winter when it cools down. Things can grow again. You can go outside and be comfortable. Picnics and bar-b-ques are an option.

Myka just turned five. And the next day she was talking about turning six. Ha! I visited her school to bring cookies for the class, and she loved the extra attention. She wanted cupcakes AND an ice cream cake at her birthday party, and we obliged. We had a simple bar-b-que with friends. The kids all ran around like hooligans, and the adults got to visit. Last year Emery blew Myka’s candle out, she got upset, and I probably laughed. This year, we forgot the candles (including a number five candle we will now wait two years to use) so the happy birthday song was a little anticlimactic. A friend did pull up a candle app on her phone. Welcome to the new, safer way of blowing out birthday candles!  Now that Myka’s birthday is past, I wonder what she will talk about at school? It’s been her favorite conversation topic for weeks.

Emery is still adjusting to having a baby sister around, transitioning from naps to a quiet time, and generally being a two-almost-three year old boy. He makes big messes, throws big tantrums, and likes big hugs. He has the best laugh, and one of my favorite things to do right now is get him to giggle. He can be really sweet to Poppy, but mostly ignores her, though he is getting better.  Maybe he’s just realizing she isn’t going anywhere. He likes me to hold him, so when I can we sit in the recliner and snuggle. I think I’ll put a little stack of books there for us to read through. I’ve noticed that he is sitting through story time at the rec. center – a weekly event where young kids on the compound get together and sing songs and then read a book together. He doesn’t always make it through the book reading, but he likes the song part. He also will do at least one craft at art class. Sometimes two. He just joined me as I’m typing this, coming out of his room after his nap with his swimming suit.  There was some disappointment (and fussing) when I told him we were going to the beach tomorrow not right now, but now he’s sitting quietly if awkwardly on my lap.

Poppy is sleeping in the swing. She usually sleeps in there or in her crib, although one time when I put her on the play mat for some tummy time she promptly fell asleep right there on the floor. She is growing! My arms notice that she is heavier. We are now using 0-3 month clothing. I noticed the weather had changed when I was dressing her in long sleeves and pants instead of just a onesie. She is usually content and easy going. We posted a video on facebook of her talking with Stephen. Her coos and smiles are so precious! I often get a big smile when she first wakes up in the morning. We will be going in for her two month check up soon, hopefully this week.

My foot has fallen asleep with Emery on my lap. I asked if he wanted to sit in the other office chair, but, no, he wants to sit on my lap, so I let him stay. The things we do for our children…

Tomorrow I am going on a bus trip with only Poppy in tow. We are going to a Christmas bazaar at a different compound here in Jubail.  It’s a nicer compound. Fancy. And this is my first time visiting. I’m so excited!

November is crazy busy here for us. There are so many birthdays and events and the holidays are beginning. We have at least one birthday party a week. I feel like it’s one thing after another until February. But one day at a time! And I’ll try to take lots of pictures.

 


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October

October is going awfully quickly. I feel like it should be the 8th or 9th. No, actually it’s the 21st. What?!

We are finding our rhythm. Stephen’s mom has gone back home, Myka is back in school, and I’m back to making school lunches and going to toddler activities. And we are all doing well.  Myka hasn’t missed her bus, and I haven’t forgotten to make her a lunch.  Emery went to art class and play time this week! That might be a first. Poppy went 3 1/2 hours between meals last night and usually takes a longer mid-day nap of 3 hours or so. She still mostly sleeps, and that allows me a nap here and there, and those naps keep me sane (most of the time). She is very pleasant, but when she is unhappy, wow, does she let us know. We think she might be the loudest of our babies.

Poppy is my first baby with any hair. It’s so soft. I have no idea how to comb it, if I comb it. Mostly it just fluffs up to her typical hedgehog style. I love it. However, this long hair has one major problem. She grabs it. She gets her little hand tightly holding her hair right down at the scalp, and opening an infants clenched fist is nearly impossible! She wails because someone is yanking on her hair. Maybe we should put a hat on her. No, it’s too hot for a hat.

Yes, it’s still hot here.  My weather app tells me that right now it is 97F with widespread dust. That sounds lovely. Who wants to visit?!! We haven’t had any rain yet. Last year it was cooler and had rained a few times by now. We are still enjoying going to the pool! And the pool has chillers on right now making the water cooler. We have started to visit the playground again. It was too hot even first thing in the morning until a couple weeks ago. We met a few friends there this morning. Poppy laid on her blanket in the shade while the older kids played. I think she got a little hot by the time we got home, though, and she has a heat rash that comes and goes. Poor thing.

Poppy’s paperwork for her passport has been processed, and I have submitted my application for passport renewal, but they don’t like our pictures. First, they said there was a shadow on Poppy’s photo. So we had a friend who is a photographer photo-shop out the shadow. This time they said they are the wrong size or proportions. Our faces weren’t big enough. We did use an online program to adjust our face size and we’ve used this process for our passports in the past! Stephen decided we should give birth in the states next time. We went to a photo shop in Jubail and got two very unattractive pictures of Poppy and me. It makes me feel vain, but I may have to go and try again. Otherwise my passport photo will make me angry every time we travel for the next ten years.

 

Update! You may have noticed that I say it is the 21st in my post and it is actually posted to the blog on the 31st. That would be because it has taken me ten days to get the photos added on here. Yikes! So I’d like to add that we had a very fun Halloween today. Myka loves dressing up. Emery will wear his airplane wings (see photo below) for about one minute before he wants them off. But they are awfully cute! I’ll have to update this post again with a couple photos of Myka in her fairy princess costume.

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School

It’s Myka’s first day of school today! She hopped right on the bus while holding a friend’s hand (so cute), and a friend of mine who works at the school said she settled into her class well.  I am so thankful for friends who check on my little girl on her first day of school!  What surprised me the most was how in-the-dark I feel about what’s going on for Myka right now.  Why didn’t I realize it would be like this? Of course I wouldn’t know what is going on: she’s at school and I’m here at home.  But I just didn’t think about how clueless I would feel.  And it’s not like I can text her teacher and ask, “Hey, how’s Myka? Everything going well?” which is what I could do if she was at a friends or with a babysitter.

Emery’s surprise today was a set of trains and tracks from Ikea.  He loves it.  He has played with those trains for hours today.  We did stop playing with trains to go to the playground.  That was a poor decision on my part; it is still too hot for that. We should have gone to the pool, and we’ll go swimming tomorrow. As we get to the playground, and Emery goes running off, he says to himself, “Where’s Myka? Oh, school.”  It was so sweet that he thought of her.  I love that.

Now I’m in the middle of my first quiet afternoon of the school year.  Emery is napping, Myka is at school, and I get to decide what I want to do.  I made some banana muffins already.  Now I think I’ll pick something to watch on tv and work on the baby blanket I’m knitting.

I only have a few weeks of this type of leisure time!  Ha!  I’m going to soak it up.

 

 

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Home and Away

When I get back home in Saudi Arabia there are things I miss:

Driving off to the store basically whenever I want

Grandparents available and quite willing to watch their grandchildren

Cooler weather

Wearing jeans

A crazy selection of everything at stores. (I especially like picking out whatever kind of juice that I happen to want. I know…weird.)

 

But there are things I miss when I’m not here:

Being together as a family

My own space with my very own things

Our friends here

Our regular routine (not that we have found it again yet!)

A swimming pool just a walk away

Even our cats, though not the cat hair..

 

Our big event since we have been back: Emery has switched to a toddler bed from his crib. I’m thankful for the two and a half years he stayed put in our crib, but during this last trip he perfected the art of climbing out of a pack-n-play. The plan was to wait until we got over the jet lag to switch to the toddler bed, but he was climbing out of the crib a lot. I didn’t want him falling all that way onto a ceramic tile floor (OUCH), so our first full day back he moved into the toddler bed.

Nap times are great. No issues. He just stays there and goes to sleep. Night time is Awful. He doesn’t stay in bed, he climbs in his sisters bed (they share a room), he visits the playroom and brings noisy toys into their room, he is waking his sister up, they both visit me in the middle of the night… It’s been four nights. The first night the time change kept them up until the middle of the night. The second night we improved to a solid eleven hours from 10:00pm to 9:00am. I thought, “Great! We are on our way!” Uh…Yeah. Now they just get up. All night long. It’s throwing my sleep off (on top of any remaining jet lag and being eight months pregnant), and I end up awake even between the visits of my children.

So I’m a little grumpy today.

And I will be changing my tactics tonight. Hopefully a change on my part will cause a change on their part! Maybe this is combining the transitions of jet lag and switching beds, so I’m just going through it once instead of twice?

 

Edit: I also miss Target. And pharmacy items in the grocery store. And Panera Bread.  Those cinnamon crunch bagels are *sigh* amazing…

Last night was much better! Emery came out of his room room two or three times before Stephen and I went to bed. And he visited once in the middle of the night. Also, he was up at 6:00 which was a little early, but I’ll take the overall improvement! I stayed in the kids’ room for about fifteen minutes after our bedtime routine to see that Emery stayed in his bed and everyone settled down.  Not sure if that is what made the difference; Emery was still awake though quiet and laying down when I left. We will see how tonight goes!


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It’s hot.

 

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That picture of trees against a blue sky is misleading.  The sky is rarely blue here.  Usually it is more of a gray or brown color.  I find the choice of photo in this app annoying.

It is June 1st today! The beginning of Summer!  And I am so glad we are going back to the states for a while this year.  I don’t remember being this uncomfortable last year, and we stayed through the summer months.  Maybe we stayed inside more.  Maybe it wasn’t as hot last year. Maybe it’s because I’m pregnant.  Either way, I find I am not enjoying the increasing temperatures.  By 10:00am there is no longer shade to walk in, and it isn’t until about 5:00 that it starts being bearable outside again.  When we go to the pool in the morning, we are usually walking back to the house around 11:00, and it is a hot walk home.

However, we have enjoyed some time out at the pool in the evenings and have cooked out on the grill with friends.  We even tried making some s’mores, but something is wrong with the marshmallows I bought here.  They don’t melt.  They stay chewy on the inside even when the outside has been perfectly toasted by my loving husband.  (I didn’t want to stand that close to the extra heat of the fire!)  I am looking forward to more cookouts in the fall!  And I may have to add marshmallows to my list of things to buy in the US.


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Bahrain

We stayed at three different locations for our three weekends in Bahrain.

The first was located right beside the yacht club where Stephen’s lessons took place.  It wasn’t close to anything else, but it with restaurants, a beach, pool, and room service why go anywhere?!  We had a smaller room: bedroom and living area combined, bathroom, and a balcony. The balcony looked into the marina, and a big yacht was right in front of us.  While Emery napped, Myka and I would read books, eat snacks, and drink iced tea (all which we brought with us to save on cost) on the balcony while we watched them clean and ready the yacht to go out.  Jet skis would zoom around, and the kids would wave at the riders.  The balcony got afternoon sun and was Hot! I would pick a different location next time.  It took a short walk to get to the beach and restaurants.  The kids loved the little beach area, but Myka was a little worried about the small crabs in most of the tiny sea shells. It was entertaining to watch them crawl about though!

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The second place we stayed was attached to a mall, so I had a completely different packing list.  There was a pool, and the kids loved the play area beside the breakfast buffet.  We did some shopping and besides one Major Meltdown (I think it was the worst fit Myka has ever had…and in public too.  And Emery joined in.  Lovely. but besides that…) the kids did really well!  I got almost everything on my list! This hotel was so comfortable and had a large kitchen area.  Because the other two places we stayed at had beaches and lots of outside activities, we will probably stay at this location if we visit during the summer because we will want to be inside where it’s cooler!

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And the third place we stayed was back on the beach!  It so happened that some friends were going the same weekend, much to my children’s overwhelming joy, and it made this weekend so enjoyable!  It cost more than the other two places, but it is a beautiful resort.  We had a spacious room with the bedroom and bathroom separated from the living room and dinning area.  The living room and bedroom had french doors which opened onto a patio, and we could walk right out to the pool and beach from there.  It was shaded nicely and Myka and I enjoyed our afternoon outside on the porch while Emery napped.  The pool had perfect areas for children with slight grading with plenty of water about 1 1/2 feet deep. There was also a splash area specifically for small kids.  The service was impressive: drinks brought to you on the beach, towels laid out on your pool chair… We had a rough time at dinner the one night (really slow service. Just getting our drinks took 45 minutes!), but other than that they were very attentive.

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You never know what you might see along the way…


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It’s a girl!

Myka was right.  The boys will now be out numbered.  I am so excited to start getting ready for another girl!

 

Here are some pictures and happenings from April.  First, some randomness:

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A budding photographer:

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I made Myka a skirt!

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And the last of a set of four plastic cups from Target cracked.  I loved them.  White on the outside, bright and colorful on the inside – it’s the simple things that make me happy.

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We played outside with friends:

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(Can you see what Emery is looking at?  A digger.  He loves scooping, digging, machines, trucks….)

 

And we went to Bahrain THREE times!  The packing and unpacking and prepping for each weekend trip was a little crazy, but it was a lot of fun.  Stephen took sailing lessons and the kids and I enjoyed the hotels.  We stayed at three different places; so much fun!  I’m putting together a post about the three hotels we stayed in, and there will be more pictures with that one.