Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wednesday is the NEW Friday!

My littles are ready to SHOP on King Khalid today and ride the bus!
This was a favorite of the boys!
Hinley just snacked instead of riding
I think this color looks like a "Party Purple", and yesterday was a party kind of day. We started with a big time play date at the mall, and I know you're thinking "oh, boring, kiddie area in the mall with germs and anti-social moms". Nooooo, it's not that AT ALL! This play area is a huge arcade in the upper level of Rashid Mall with carnival rides. Think Chuck E. Cheese, but better....with pets for sale. Say WHAT???? Yes,! The guy doesn't speak English, though, so that's always my excuse. "Sorry, kids, I was gonna buy that rabbit today, but he doesn't understand me." Yep, gets me points every time. I mean, of course I change up which animal we were going to buy that day, and I DO ACTUALLY TRY to buy the animal. Sadly, I have now learned how to ask "how much is that?" in Arabic then say "that's too much". This excuse won't work. I really am brushing up on my Arabic! Back to, I am bad about getting away from the topic!
The kids were super cute, especially Nugget, who just stared at the boys riding everything. She was the only girl in a group of 5 old enough to ride the rides. We also had 2 in infant carriers. My favorite part of the day was watching the Arab men ride the elevator up and down...again and again. My friend and I were waiting, with our 5 kids, and we see the elevator come to us and open. Of course, the man gets on, pushes the button and lets the door close in our face. This is very typical. Women our not highly esteemed. That doesn't bother me. It just makes me laugh at their ignorance. (I silently chant "I am a Proverbs 31 Woman") Anyway, the elevator goes up, and I am thinking "the only thing up there is the play land, have fun". It is THREE GROWN MEN, mind you. Then, the elevator comes back down. The SAME men are still in it, and they go to the floor below us. A few seconds pass, and it comes to us again...SAME DARN MEN!!!! THIS IS SO FUNNY, but also ridiculous. These guys aren't together!! Really, none of them know how to operate an elevator? The door opens, and the man who piled on in front of us speaks out the door, "don't touch the buttons". My friend, the Canadian Elaine, says "you don't touch the buttons, it's not our fault you don't know how to operate a lift. You can ride it all (expletive) day for all I care." I simply said, "We are women with children, and you should be ashamed to speak to us that way, in the first place. We haven't touched the buttons, and you've been riding the same elevator for 10 minutes without going anywhere. Floor 3, Shukran"! Elaine looked at me pale as a ghost, apologized after realizing what she had said and laughed. We got out at floor 3 and let them enjoy their "ride". We spent an hour at the mall then piled in the taxi like sardines. I am trying to adjust to my babies not being in car seats at all times, and it is killing me. This country has the highest death rate from MVA's of ANYWHERE, and I have my kids in a taxi at least once a week. This will be a big adjustment when we are back in Texas, I bet. Thankfully, they are in Daddy's car a lot too, and a car seat is a MUST!
PARTY, PARTY, PARTY!!! Miss Elaine has become a dear friend, and her husband is whisking her away to Denmark for her birthday, which is also NYE. I had a wonderful night planned to celebrate her, but that all got foiled by the last minute arrival of their new baby boy's iqama. So, I threw a little dinner party at our house last night. I loved feeling like I was able to host people again. I am truly happy when I am in the kitchen, flour flying, with too many things on the stove. Thank GOD for my amazing 9 year old that is better without a recipe and with a wooden spoon that I. The boy is gifted in the art of cuisine! He made sauteed mushrooms that were a hit. Our menu consisted of:
Honey lime chicken on the grill
Fajita chicken for the kids
Jordan's mushrooms
Stuffed Red and Orange peppers with rice, black beans, jalapenos, red onion and topped with cheddar
Refried beans for the kiddos
various dips with chips for appetizers
Homemade Beer and Wine
Homemade White chocolate cake with Buttercream icing topped with sugar pearls

NOW, that was a wonderful meal with our newest friends! We had 8 adults and 6 kids. I loved having our home full of food, friends laughter and chaos. We are looking forward to many more nights similar to that and adjusting to this new Friday we call Wednesday.

Arabic for the day:
keyyafa-to adapt
Keep in mind, these are all written totally ARABIC, of course. I am writing them as they are pronounced in English.

Here is your list, and this one is for the LADIES!!!
1. It is nice easy to make friends here and find ladies that you can really be yourself around.
2. Nobody cares who has the BETTER abaya....haha!
3. You can only go to a "ladies center" to get any type of salon service (nails, hair, waxing, etc.) These are one of the few places open from 10-10 instead of closing from noon till 4.
4. There is a lady that comes to my house for a 2 hour massage, with her own table, for 2 hours, for 200 SAR. Remember the conversion 1 USD=3.75 SAR
5. There are also ladies that will come to your home for mani/pedi, waxing, facials, threading...probably anything. I have only used the massage lady and LOVE her!
6. Her husband does the massages for men, remember everything is separated by gender here.
7. My neighbor across the street is Chinese, gorgeous and does facials for 90 minutes, in her home for 150 SAR. Talk about personal service!
8. The covered women here will come out of a public restroom and touch up their eye makeup every.single.time!!! Think about how often we apply lipgloss or chap stick, that is eyeliner and mascara to them. It was strange for me at first, but then I realized it IS their "gloss".
9. Okay, craziest thing is, the shortest, tightest dresses you might see are on the ladies that are covered from head to toe! When no men are around, the abayas and hijab come off, and the high fashion is what's underneath. I was shocked.
10. We are having a party on 1/25 with ladies only, so they can wear what they want and dance. The ladies are so excited to have awards for best make-up and hair. I think that is something we really take for granted, the opportunity to just fix our hair.
Anyway, pick up your mouth from the floor....haha!!!
Blessed be your day!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

You talkin' to me?

he found his happy place!

This guy asked to take H home with him!

Today is another great day! For the first year EVER, I am in a hurry to take down my Christmas decorations. I think it's because our villa was only decorated for about a week before I started decorating for Christmas. If you know me at all, you know that I tend to go O.VER.BOARD. on decorations when it comes to Christmas. I did scale back a bit this year, since I was scared to bring anything important out of fear it would be taken from me at Customs. Still, there are Santas, ornaments, snowmen, trees, elves, crosses, angels, and stars a plenty in my home right now. Time to pack it away for another 11 months! My mom will be here in 6 more sleeps, and I want the house to look like it would on a normal day...just cleaner :).
So, back to my title...
I had lunch with a fabulous lady today. I spend most Sunday mornings with her, and she is very inspiring to me. On our way home, in the back of a taxi, we had a nice conversation about the dedication of the Muslim people. It started by me stating how ironic it was to see all of the gun tower guards for our compound kneeling down, foreheads on the pavement, praying to Allah, with the call to prayer in the background, as we drove to Christmas Eve services. After I told her that, she said their dedication is something she admires. I agree. We both said there are hypocrites in every religion, and yes, you'll meet hateful Muslims. Mostly, though, this country is full of wonderful, devout people who love the God they worship! She went on to say that we will never be able to convert someone out of disrespect, hatred, or rudeness. I really started to think about what she was saying. I can't think of a time when I have been flat out, blatantly rude to a Muslim person here (except posting the pic of the prayer rug that came free with our car, might have been offensive). I felt shameful, though, for not being more tolerant and respectful of this country and its people. I am in a place where I can learn SO MUCH about how to truly worship and live a prayerful life. Do I pray enough? Do I stop what I am doing and pray 6 times a day, or is it an afterthought during some routine exercise? I want to challenge myself to be more compassionate to the people around me. I want to be more obedient in my walk with the Lord, and I want to challenge you to do the same. You don't have to be in Saudi for this. We are all surrounded by people of different religions! Lord knows, we ALL know people that NEED compassion. Can somebody say "BLESS YOUR HEART!"?
"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Eph 4:31-32
Okay, that was pretty deep for today...about that lunch, it was at Le Meridien and probably the best food I have had in Saudi. We saw the lunch buffet, which looked amazing. We saw the price and walked away. We went to the little cafe in the hotel and smelled all the cigarettes...yuck. The place was full of Saudi men, so we headed back to the buffet. It was 15o SAR, but we decided to splurge. Yummy, yummy, yummy! I am full and happy.
Crazy facts for today:
1. Smoking is still allowed in the public places like malls and restaurants
2. 1 USD=3.75 SAR
3. Women must eat in a family section, and there are curtains for women to pull to take off their hijab to eat without other men seeing their face.
4. Homemade alcohol is definitely an acquired taste!
5. Everyone litters here. I can't believe people go down the road throwing trash out the windows.
6. The fine for littering is Bahrain is 10BD...around $30! Really????
7. Modern day slavery exists, and I see it everyday. This is the thing that bothers me most!
8. Showing a newly potty trained child an Eastern toilet will definitely set you back by MONTHS!
9. The black camel is a gorgeous animal.
10. The water is making my hair fall out. I could have made a wig for a small child or bald man by now!
None of those are funny, but hey, it's stuff you might not have known otherwise!
Arabic for the day:
musaalim- peaceful

Blessed be your day!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Well, it's about time!

After much coaxing from friends, I have finally spent enough time in front of this computer to get this blog up and running! Thankfully, I noticed the link in the Coco blog, that said "create blog", and clicked that this morning. Whew, after, spending my night navigating the sign in page in Arabic, I was whipped. Praise the Lord for shortcuts!
So, we have been here a little over three months, and I have to admit, I am very happy! If you are planning to read this for sad posts and stories of all the terrible things I am enduring in this country, you won't find it. Yes, there are a lot of differences. I have several opportunities, on a daily basis, to be bitter and ungrateful! I choose to find the opportunities to be happy and thankful, though. My children have adjusted so easily, which surprises me everyday. Yes, this was God's plan, I know! We prayed long and hard before this move and continue those prayers. This would not be so easy without our faith. Saudi Arabia might be the LEAST Christian place in the ENTIRE WORLD...anybody wanna disagree or been to another place more anti-Christian? I would love to hear other perspectives. It is very eye-opening and makes us appreciate all of the religious freedoms we will enjoy in the summers.
Okay, enough with the serious stuff! I'll let you in on some of the funny/different stuff we have experienced.
1. Being asked if I am Adam's only wife, then being told by the same man that he has 3. Polygamy is very common for Muslims.
2. Pork is illegal in Saudi, but it is sold in Bahrain (just over a bridge). It takes about an hour with security checks of passports and the car. We were told you can buy pork and bring it home if you have it "Saudi wrapped". Well, our first attempt was not successful. We had our pork taken at Customs. We were told "Sank you veh-we much" and let go. Later, we found out our passports could have been stamped with "PORK OFFENDER". Now, that's funny! Now, no wrap, and we smuggle like pros!
3. I wear an abaya in Saudi anytime I am not on my compound. It saves me from picking out clothes everyday. Nobody knows if you have on sweats or an awesome dress!!!
4. I can only see the eyes of most women in stores everyday. I have this CRAZY urge to go up to one and pull the cover off of her face!
5. I can't drive in Saudi ever, but it's the highest death rate in the world in car accidents. So, I wouldn't want to get behind the wheel.
6. We bought a new Sequoia, and it's about the equivalent of $11 to fill it up with gas.
7. I feel extremely safe! Crimes are still punishable by beheading and chopping of the hands, so I don't worry about things being stolen or any harm being done to me.
8. EVERYONE local wants to kiss my baby girl. That is getting a little old. A lady with a cold sore on her lips gave H some chocolate then asked for a kiss. Umh, no, we gave back the chocolate.
9. The men here are RUDE....well, most of the women too. It's a "get out of my way" mentality. Imagine when you are in a check out line to pay for something, and someone cuts in front of you every.single.time! You have to learn to tolerate this, or you will become very frustrated.
10. There are calls to prayer 6 times a day. Two of these happen before any of the stores open, but there is one just before noon each day. For that one, the stores close then do not re-open until 4 o'clock. Basically, there is NOTHING to place to shop, take the kids to do activities, places to pop in and out for errands (think dry cleaners, postal service, tailor). Restaurants are open, but they will not serve for the 30 minutes of the next prayer around 2:50. I won't ever adjust to this, but it has taught me to plan accordingly and not procrastinate. SO, the funny side to this is, our new car came with a free prayer rug! Yes, when the call to prayer sounds, Muslims will stop and pray where they are...even in the desert!
Okay, that is 10. I think in each post, I will list for you, several things that are new for me! Hopefully, it will give you a glimpse into our daily lives.
We miss our family and friends! We feel blessed by this opportunity, however. Jordan was mentioning things he is thankful for yesterday, before we ate our Christmas meal, and he said,
"for the opportunity to see and be a part of other cultures". Really, what 9 year old thinks of this as part of giving thanks? My Children continue to amaze me on this journey! Don't worry, I will go back and fill you in on the beginning of our transition to the "land of sand". It is hard to believe we have already been here 1/12 of our time!
Blessed be your day!