After having Nana here for 12 days, things are moving at a slower pace, and the house is so quiet. I know the kids LOVED showing her all of their new favorite places and introducing her to all of their friends. She was very receptive to everything too! I know she was scared to death of how different everything would be here, but after arriving, I think she was pleasantly surprised. The guards with guns everywhere is something that you never get too comfortable with, I don't think. It's just in the back of my head "what if that thing goes off while you are walking so calmly?". Mom did mention that the outside of our compounds and other places were like military bases then like resorts once inside. Village 1, where we live, is more like a construction zone than resort, but it will be lovely very soon (I keep telling myself that)!
Mom was up for anything, which made it so easy to entertain her. Here is a list of the things she experienced while here:
We took a taxi to Dammam for shopping one day, she got to experience being locked in McDonald's and the craft store for prayer time, she took the bus with me to run errands, she ate Arabic food while trying not to use her left hand (courtesy of Adam's boss), she tried a shwarma from a street kitchen, she had the pleasure of walking into an Eastern toilet, she had her picture made with a man in typical Arab attire, she went with me to the hospital here to see how the medical system works, she rode the bus to school with the kids and walked them to school to experience that, and she tried Pakistani food with no complaints. The only things she really complained about were the driving and lack of Mexican food! Truly, those are the only things I can say I think are bad too...and some people's homebrew recipes....haha!
As for the dinner with Adam's boss, it was very interesting! His wife speaks very little English. He has one daughter around Jordan's age, so we took J and left the other two younger ones with Rose. Our reservations were at 7:30, so that would be too late to get them started at dinner anyway; especially with Adam's boss I had never met. We arrived at the restaurant, to find a HUGE building on the waterfront in Dammam. It is lined with individual cabanas or tables throughout a garden. On the other side is an arcade bigger than most Chuck E. Cheese buildings. The wife and two kids played while we chatted with Adam's boss and awaited the food. I guess it is customary, in this culture, to order many main dishes and pick from each one, with flatbread, of course. There were not serving spoons, so I was a bit confused, at first. We had pizza, shish ka bob, hammour in cream sauce, salmon steak, salads, hummus, motabella, flatbread, and french fries. Is that an assortment or what? It was very good, but I was stuffed! After this meal, we moved from the cabana to the garden area for coffee, hot chocolate, and dessert. I completely forgot that we would be staying for coffee. We did not wrap up our dinner until after 11 PM!!!! This late night lifestyle is the norm here, and I am still trying to adjust. It was a wonderful evening, and I was so glad to have time to visit with the man who offered us this opportunity.
I guess having the kids out of school for two weeks and having Mom here made me tired, because I am trying to stay awake past 9 lately. I will try to do better about updating this blog more frequently. I need to make notes throughout the day, too, because things happen that I think would be neat to tell you about and are long forgotten by the time I sit in front of the computer.
List for the day:
1. We found someone to sponsor us for church for 6 months, so a HUGE praise there!
2. A lady told me yesterday that an ex-pat wife is a very strong woman if she survives her first assignment. I totally agree!
3. Every woman that has lived any other place has said Saudi is the HARDEST assignment to have as an ex-pat. I am finding it alright, so I guess I can make it anywhere.
4. We are finally planning our first big vacation from here, Zurich for 10 days with stops in Italy.
5. I cooked meals last night and tonight that Jordan raved about, both with things that are hard to get...pork chops and Ro-Tel. The boy isn't easy, I tell ya!
6. Our healthcare is top notch, so our experience with W's ears must have been a fluke.
7. Adam will be coaching a group of preschool Saudi kids in soccer. Weston is the only American, so please pray for his sanity!
8. Hinley is LOVING taking tap and ballet...even walks around in panties and tap shoes at home. Help us all!
9. Jordan is an awesome swimmer, and we could never afford (in Texas) the private coaching he is getting here.
10. Yesterday, we completed four months of our 3 years in Saudi. I think we have just started our lives as ex-pats. I would be okay doing this until Adam retires. We are so fortunate to have this opportunity.
Arabic for the day:
Blessed be your day!