Monday, September 29, 2008
I was impressed with the outward appearance of the Pediatrics ward (or “Paediatrics” as was written on the door... for you European folk) of Gulf Diagnostics Center. It was painted in bright, happy colors and adorned with childish paintings of rocket ships, boats and puppies. Also, the front of the building had valet parking! Just like everywhere else here though… how many malls in the U.S. have valet parking?
Stu had to go to the pharmacy and buy Kaden’s shot while we were waiting in the room for him. Strange. On a positive note, we got more Tylenol for him (well, something that is APPARENTLY the same thing) and it was only 6 dirham… or would have been, but our insurance covered it… clearly we can’t afford a $1 prescription). It sort of weirds me out to give him something that I am not familiar with, but the doc (“Dr. May”… her first name is May… odd) is Lebanese and French and said it is the same. Trust her?
Anyway, today he seems to be doing well. The only thing that even indicated that he had a shot yesterday was that he slept well over 12 hours last night. He was a great sport today while we hit the fruit and vegetable market and Toys R Us (to stare at Wii’s that are STILL too expensive to actually purchase). Today is the last day of Ramadan (or so I’m told… it might actually be the first day of Eid… a guy said “Eid Mubrak” to me today on my way out of a store, but I haven’t actually seen anyone smoking or eating outside today). We are very much looking forward to going outside during the day, although today was still very hot. At the open air market I had beads of sweat on my forehead as usual and didn’t catch the alluring breeze that is supposed to head our way in the coming months. I will let you know when it arrives.
Other than that, we came home and had wraps for lunch and Kaden is just now waking up from his nap. Stu headed off to the gym in an effort to burn some energy so he can stop being so hyper. Not sure if we’ll be doing anything worth reporting tonight though. Bye for now!
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Stu freaking me out once we got home. Scary face huh?
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Eid is coming up here very soon. It should start on October 1st (depending on the moon of course… sigh). Since we dragged out feet on deciding if we wanted to go anywhere, we’re not. We have some places we’d like to hit up in town now that it is cooler during the day (cooler, meaning 100), and I’d like to spend some serious time relaxing with no commitments, like on the roof with tons of sunscreen and a kiddy pool, lounging for hours. I will obviously let you know what we decide to do.
For now we’re getting by with the homesickness ok. For me it is keeping a countdown in mind for when Mimi and Papa get here, and planning a list of activities for us all to do, or for Stu and I to get to sneak away to do alone while we have a trustworthy babysitter. For Stu it entails debating the Boise/CdA issue while listing to Kissin’ 92 on the internet and looking us houses in our price range. Me discovering that Spinneys sells the best crusty bread and assorted cheeses EVER has helped too. I have no problem with eating my way to happiness! Haha. Which also means that I’ve been spending more time on the elliptical to make up for it!
Kaden fell down today and bit his lip and made it bleed. This is the first baby blood ever and it was a little nerve wrecking, even though I watched him do it. He immediately stuck his finger to his lip where it hurt and got blood on his hand so it made it look worse than it was. I looked and there is the teeniest little baby tooth cut on his lip, but I felt so bad for him! He is napping now to feel better after we cuddled on the couch.
Oh, as far as rock on food goes, I made some killer Chinese last night… have a go at it if you’re feeling adventurous. It was a huge hit and is SUPER easy to make! Keeping in mind that everything I cook is an adaptation from some SEVERAL other recipes I've found!
Sydney’s Fried Rice:
2 cups cooked white rice
½ small white onion, or two medium scallions, chopped
¾ cup frozen mixed vegetables
2 TBSP olive oil
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper
1) 1. In a large pan, heat oil on medium-high heat. Add onion and rice. Stir and cook until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.
6) Sprinkle very lightly with soy sauce and stir well, taste to see if it needs more. Do not add too much, it really needs very little.
Sydney’s Egg Foo Yung:
¼ cup finely chopped green onions
¼ cups chopped mushrooms
½ cup already cooked frozen shrimp, thawed
1 TBSP soy sauce
Salt and pepper
Egg Foo Yung Sauce:
½ cup water
2 TBSP Soy Sauce
I chicken bouillon cube
1) For the sauce, heat the water and soy until hot, crumble the bouillon cube into the water, stir. Keep warm over low heat.
2) Wisk the eggs in a large bowl, add salt and pepper to taste, soy sauce, stir.
3) Add onions, mushrooms, and shrimp (or any other meat you have on hand) to the mixture and stir to combine.
4) Heat a small pan over medium heat, add about 1 TBSP olive oil and then add half of the mixture to the pan, allowing eggs to set.
5) Cook about 4 minutes until the eggs are slightly brown. Flip with a spatula. Cook until eggs are fully cooked. Repeat process with the remaining mixture. Makes two large servings.
Serve with or over the fried rice, spooning the sauce over the dish, as desired.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
This past weekend Stu had his fight as you all know. He lost but he looked so much better this time around. Starting out he was on the attack and he looked so confident out there. He did great throughout the fight, but the other guy eventually got the edge. Here are some highlights from the fight:
Under 74 kilos fighters.
On the attack.
We did our border run with much more ease than we anticipated. When we got back here from visiting the States we had 30-day visa stamps and were told by Stu’s job that from now on we’d only be able to get 30-day stamps. This sucks because while it’s only an hour and a half drive, going through both borders, filling out paperwork at each, and just driving makes it a whole-day affair. But, we went through the border at Hili, which we were told we wouldn’t be able to go through, so that was nice. There were ZERO people as it was a Friday (holy day) during Ramadan (holy month). It was also still early, so there really weren’t many people to deal with.
Now that I have filled out the forms several times I know them well so they are quick now. We went into Oman (where I swear I saw plenty of Osama-sized holes in the rocks… though they assure us there are no Al Qaida training camps there) did the run and came back unharmed.
Since it is Ramadan and we can’t eat during daylight, I packed us a lunch of wraps (holy yum!) and chips and pops and we ate on the road, saving time.
Then, to avoid eye scans again, and hoping for a 60-day stamp, which the guy at Hili told us they no longer had, we opted for the Al Birhami crossing where we went through without getting out of the car, without an eye scan, without opening the trunk, and with a 60-day stamp. Woot woot! So we will be going there again. Though I should probably delete that whole paragraph so I don’t give out our secret to others hoping for similar results.
Overall it was a painless border run and now we’re good for another 60 days. Hopefully in the meantime they don’t get new stamps!
Kaden was helping Mommy in the kitchen this weekend too… look at my little chef in the making!
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Sydney's Chicken Chimichangas:
1 -2 pounds of chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 small can of chopped green chiles (or cut up the whole ones if that is what you have)
1/4 cup cooked white or brown rice
1/2 cup chredded fat free cheddar cheese, divided
salt and pepper to taste
1 package flour tortillas
oil for frying
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2) In a large bowl, combine onion, chiles, cooled rice, 1/4 cup of the cheese, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3) Season cubed chicken with salt and pepper and cook in small amount of olive oil until lightly browned, remove from heat and add to other ingredients in bowl. Stir well.
4) Place a heaping spoonful of the mixture into the center of each tortillas and fold corners in and roll into a pouch.
5) In a small frying pan, add about 1/4 inch of oil for frying, heat over medium heat. Test the oil with a tiny piece of a tortilla. When it lightly bubbles and floats to the top, the oil is hot enough.
6) One roll at a time, place the fold side down in the oil, turning once. Fry about 1 minute on each side or until golden brown. Remove to paper towels. Finish remaining rolls.
7) Place all fried chimichangas on a baking sheet and sprinkle with cheese. Put in oven 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Serve with rice and vegetables.
Last night I ran out of tortillas and I made the last one with a Spinach tortilla. While it wasn't as pretty once it was browned in the oil, it was still yummy! So you can use whatever you have on hand! :)
Last night we really wanted popcrn but didn't have any. Stu headed down to the Haji store and look what he brought home! It worked out fine, popping it on the stove (how domestic of me, huh?).
Anyway, it has been a pretty boring week but I will definite have pictures and more fun posts after this weekend, so stay tuned!
Here are my babies during story time last night... holding hands. Soooo sweet!
Monday, September 15, 2008
I can so quickly remember as I read about it, the way I felt over certain things, and the harder times I purposely left out of my blog, trying to keep a happy face about the very difficult culture shock I was facing. It's amazing. I've been sitting here for an hour reading and I've only gotten through April! Fun stuff. I should have done this a long time ago.
Anyway, I initially got back on this blog to post a recipe because I have had lots of email reqests for some of my favorite recipes from people and I keep forgetting to post some of them. So I will start with my favorite meal... my soon-to-be FAMOUS Sweet and Sour Chicken!
This is what I have decided are the instructions because I make it without measuring anything and there always seems to be "a little more" of one thing or another needed, but here we go. Give it a try!
Sydney's Sweet and Sour Chicken:
1 pound of chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1/4 cup flour, and a little salt and pepper
1/2 cup sliced white or yellow onion
1/2 cup sliced green bell pepper
1/2 cup slices red bell pepper
(throw in yellow pepper if you like it as well... I usually use any combination of bell peppers that I have on-hand)
one medium carrot cut into small pieces (or grated... I tried this last time and it was really good too)
2 garlic cloves, minced (or chopped, whatever)
1 cup pineapple chunks (I use fresh since it's so easy to come by here, but canned are fine too)1/4 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon balsamic or red wine vinegar (I use balsamic because I love it so much)
1 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger root (either fresh or powdered... I tried powdered last time and it was still just as good)
1) put the cut up chicken into a large ziplock bag with the flour (can add some salt and pepper to taste, I'd say 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of each), shake it up well to coat.
2) In about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, saute the chicken until slightly brown (it will cook a little longer in the sauce so don't worry if it is still slightly pink inside.
3) remove the chicken and set it aside, rinse pan, add about one more tablespoon of olive oil and sauce the vegetables (onion, peppers, carrot, garlic)
4) add the rest of the ingredients and mix well, add the chicken back to the mixture and bring to a boil until chicken is cooked through and flavors have had a chance to blend well... about ten minutes.
5) I add about a teaspoon to a tablespoon of ketchup to give it that red color you typically see at Chinese restaurants. It is purely cosmetic, but you can also use it to balance the flavors if you are having a hard time making it taste right... be sure to test the flavor before you serve. Add a little more soy, brown sugar, or even ketchup to balance. Remember that brown sugar is your best friend here... it is perfect at making too much soy more mild tasting.
Serve over brown rice.
Acting sweet and innocent and telling me a story to distact me from his real plan.
Also, I just wanted to mention what an utter loser I am. I get some magazines from my aunts and grandma on occasion and this past week Marcia sent me a bunch. I saw that there were some Smithsonian and some Oprah and whatnot, but I went to pick one up yesterday called “More”. I was half-way through reading it thinking how great this magazine was and wondering how I’d missed it thus far, when I realized the front of it says that it is a magazine for women over 40! Lol. Go figure that my 40-at-23 self would pick up 'menopausal magazine' and feel that it was made for me! Haha. So, needless to say, I found some great recipes and money-saving tips and the like throughout the magazine. It was great. A new favorite.
While on the subject of magazines, it is seriously SOOOO awesome that you guys send them! During Kaden's naps I get my fill of the latest gossip from People and fabulous recipes from Southern Lady. I LOVE it! Also kudos to Mary-Leah for the box of books. I never would have picked up any of them on my own. I just finished The Husband by Dean Koontz… I had stopped trying to read his books because he always felt so dark and depressing and way too “fantasy” for my literal mind. But this book was great. Finished it in two days and didn’t sleep much those nights just waiting to wake up and dive back into it again.
Just before that I read The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar. VERY good. When I first picked it up I felt so uncomfortable by the way the people treat each other, both with words and actions. It is a book based in India and it examines the differences between the very poor and the middle class of Bombay. Very interesting, very heart-wrenching. I felt that I might as well have been right there as detailed as it all was. If you’ve ever (or never, really) been curious about taking a look into Indian life, definitely pick up this book. It’s a quick read too, so even if you hate it, it will all be over soon. Heh. (But you won’t.)
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Poor Stu is at practice right now which doesn't even start until 9:30 at night since it is Ramadan and the Muslims aren't eating until just before 7... makes sense that their bodies aren't really in prime fighting mode at 6:30... but it's awful for Stu who has to get up at 5:30 to go to work. So needless to say, he isn't getting much sleep. This weekend is his fight though, so after that he will get two weeks off from practice and will be able to rest more. Then Ramadan will get over so those of us Christian folk can eat food in public at normal hours, AND it will start to get cooler! What a great month October is going to be! Haha. Plus, my hubby is going to be celebrating his quarter-century birthday on the 5th! Big month, this October.
Sam brought us some really great watermelon this evening which was just wonderful of her. I am not sure if I blogged about my last watermelon experience or not. After getting a bunch of most-not-rotten ones, I opted for a pretty big whole melon and I sliced my knife into it and a thick, syrup ran out of it while a smell that could be described as nothing other than disgusting assaulted my nostrils. It was bad. And it turned me off of watermelon for a couple of weeks (to make sure it was in fact ALL rotten, I did the unadvised and tried some... Uhh, trust your nose on this one folks... if it smells rotten, DO NOT TASTE IT!)
Anywho, in other news, Rainy has made it home to Colorado for a visit with her family and Marcelo will soon be joining her for his first trip to the US. I am eager to see what he thinks of it (and how soon he will be joining Stu and I in good old North Idaho to open his Jui-Jitsu gym!)
Anyway, that's about it. Kaden got to spend some time on the webcam tonight with both Grandma and Grandpa Fox and Great Mimi, so that was good. We haven't had a lot of time to get on there recently... he did a little performing for the family with blowing kisses and clapping and saying "bye-bye" at the appropriate times. PLUS he got to sport his rockin' tye-dye outfit from Uncle Deven and Aunt Marcia. Very hip baby.
Charmaine, an Australian, seemed really nice. She appeared to be the one who spear-headed the whole meeting, which she cleverly named "Stitch-and-Bitch" (like, get together and knit while dishing about whatever). I can’t remember one of their names, but she is an American from Los Angeles that works for the American Embassy here. I also got to spend part of Ramadan with two fasting Muslim American women. Pretty cool, right? Seems like I am never short of that-will-probably-never-happen-again experiences. Lindsay is married to a Lebanese man and A'isha, who is originally from Florida, is married to a Pakistani man. She was wearing the full abaya and scarf. It was pretty interesting hearing some of the things they do and why they do them, but from an American perspective. I would love to sit down and ask questions if for no other reason than to have someone who comes from a lifestyle similar to mine explain to me why and how they would want to become Muslim.
I am not a knitter, but it was interesting to see some of the things they’d created. I think my favorite was actually this tiny scarf on a keychain that A'isha made. It was adorable.
We decided to go get dinner at Chili’s, which was fun. Kaden got to color with crayons (and taking a bite out of one while I wasn’t looking) and made a very pretty picture in orange and fluorescent purple. And I took the little electronic survey thing at the end of dinner and mentioned that my dinner wasn’t good. I had ordered chicken strips, which seem pretty universal, but they tasted closer to fish strips, which I like too, but not made out of chicken. The manager came rushing over because apparently they have a little beeper thingy attached to the survey and he immediately removed my order from our check! Huh, cool. So we had a heavily discounted dinner… with bottomless pops… nearly impossible to find here. Happy campers all around! Needless to say, we'll be going back there again.
Saturday Stu and I took Kaden to an ice rink! Yep. It was as close to being home as I’ve felt here. It was practically dead, even though there were private lessons going on. It was even foggy in there as they attempted to keep out the hundred degree weather. We met a Canadian guy from Calgary and his two children. He said they have been here for 9 (!!!) years. His son was born here and he said his birth certificate is in Arabic. Heh. He said he likes to go to the ice rink so he can feel, even if only briefly, like he is back home in Canada. Kaden decided he looked like Uncle Doug (which he did) and kept going over with his arms out for him to pick him up... That giant man just melted and kept picking him up and telling him he wanted another one "but Mommy has a say, and she said 'No'."
That will definitely be a place we’ll frequent again. Kaden thought we were hilarious on the skates. We parked him in his stroller at the door to the rink and he would grin from ear to ear as we went by. Then I got him out and let him slip-walk on the ice for a bit. We didn’t stay too terribly long but it was still nice to get a runny nose from actually being cold for once! Haha.
After killing time at home (Kaden and I took a nap) waiting for the sun to go away we ended up going to the mall for Baskin Robbins, which we still had to “take away” because it was before the evening prayer call. Who, in their right mind, fights traffic, parks in a garage, and walks all the way into the mall, only to buy ice cream and turn right around and head home??? Only one answer for this madness: TITME.
We ate leftovers and watched Deadliest Catch on AFN, then called it a weekend! :)
That’s about it from me… a big thank you for the outpouring of support on the last blog. I got roughly ten emails and nearly as many comments, all with good things to say. I appreciate the love from friends and family, as always.
This reminds me of Lindsay’s email to me in which she reminded me that Anonymous had probably been cut off by 800 taxis… just on their way home. It brought to my mind that on nearly every drive we take we risk an accident because of some careless driver. This is the car we drive… a Nissan Tiida. Don’t let the woman on the hood fool you into thinking the car is bigger than it is… she is creating an illusion as she only stands at 3 feet 4 inches herself.
Then, here is the typical Emirati vehicle… You can see our distress. (Ok not really, but it sure FEELS like it when an Escalade with rims that tower over the roof of your car, comes whizzing by at a cool 200 kph)
Saturday, September 13, 2008
I typically delete these unclaimed "anonymous" comments and write them off as being just some over oppressed bored-with-their-life asshole that has nothing better to do than read (again, anonymously) the fun-for-her-fans blog of an immature, blonde American girl, who has no business raising a child to follow in her demonic and filthy ways.
As I’ve mentioned in, oh I don’t know, at least ten posts, I write this blog for the wonderful people (ahem, American people) that I know and love back home. I’ve definitely taken this country in stride and all of its hypocritical and, to me, obnoxious ways of living, and I put the best mind-set forward. I do not “regret” the over-thirty comment (welcome to America, we have humor here) and I know that my family DOES tell me exactly what they think.
(Btw, what do wife beater tank tops have to do with being over 40 and “in the know”? Lol… I thought wife beaters had been around since the stone ages. I wasn’t aware they were somehow indicative of being cool. I used to watch COPS as a kid, too.)
Anyway, anonymous (most likely Arab) comments aside, the acronym above is the prefect explanation for the ways of this side of the world. This. Is. The. Middle. East.
I can’t wait to get out of this Hell hole and back to the real (unoppressed, un-brain-washed) world.
Opinions, eh? (They’re kind of like assholes… everyone has one and everyone thinks everyone else’s stinks)
Sydney out. (Back to that dark world I apparently frequent)
Sexy, sexy wife beater tank top
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Anyway, moving on. Kaden still loves his Charlie dog. He is sleeping with him now and when I tuck him in he feels around for him if I don’t hand him to him. Cute. We got to talk to Mimi the other night, which was great. Kaden and I haven’t been able to get on messenger lately because he is such a terror that I don’t have a chance to sit at the computer until he goes down for his nap. That’s right folks, he’s down to ONE nap per day. And he was mean about the segue too! He was taking two good naps and sometimes three naps per day and all of a sudden one day he decides he doesn’t need three naps, but oh wait, doesn’t need two naps either! So he went in one day for first nap and that was the end of second and third nap too. He is still just as crabby in the evening though as if he missed a nap, but every time we try to put him down for one, he screams until we get him up again. So we get to listen to half-whining for an hour before bed. Awesome.
We decided to stop by Khalidiyah Mall to see if the Etihad store was open. They have these travel packages called “GotToGo” where they are for a number of days with airfare and hotel included, for much cheaper than you can set up on your own with an airline and hotel (we tried). So since Eid is coming up we were thinking of getting away somewhere. We thought going up to Fujairah would be nice but nooooo. Since it is a National Holiday it is perfectly acceptable for every one of the hotels in the UAE to increase their prices by nearly double to increase profits.
Anyway, that’s about it for me. I suppose I cannot close this without mentioning that it is September 11th. It has been 7 years! I feel so old. I remember it like it was yesterday though… I imagine it’s like those who were old enough to remember the Kennedy assassination. They’ll probably always know where they were when they heard. I remember it all though. Where I was, the utter confusion about what was happening, watching everything on TV in my DECA classroom, having a bomb scare the same day and being ushered out onto the football field to wait for our school to blow up. I even got a scholarship in college (the only recipient in Idaho for 2003 thank you very much, heh) from an essay I wrote about September 11th. (Yay for Pappy Boyington!) Anyway, take a moment to reflect.
Oh, I forgot about my bizarre experience yesterday which actually ties in with my request to reflect. I took my own advice and was thinking about September 11th, 2001 when it occurred to me that I sit here in the Middle East. How if someone were to have told me back when I was a Junior in High School that I would ever move to Middle East I would have laughed in their face. I remember how fearful I felt of Arabs after that. Naiveté I guess. Yesterday I walked down to the Haji Store (in a sweatshirt… in 100 degree weather… thank you Ramadan) for some rolls since I made sloppy joes for dinner. I got the rolls and when I was paying, this Arab man who had been staring at me quizzically the whole time I was in there said to me, “You are famous, yes?”
“You are famous!” (He points to me as he talks to the cashier… “I saw her in a magazine!”)
Me: “No, I’ve not been in a magazine.”
“You have! I saw you in a magazine. I know it!”
I decided to take my leave at this juncture in the conversation. What I wanted to say was, “Yeah? Well I saw you on America’s Most Wanted.”
*for those of you who are over the age of 30, a “grill” is a term used to describe the jewelry worn over the teeth, typically by hip hop and rap artists. They are usually made of metal and gems. Here’s a picture for further grossification:
Monday, September 8, 2008
So here are some pictures from today and last night since I have been slacking on the grandmas-need-Kaden-pics department!