Sunday, November 30, 2008

26 Days... The Letter "A".

Today is the 30th of November which also means there are 26 days until Christmas! I thought in an effort to keep the things we love or appreciate (Our Favorite Things) in mind this holiday season, I'd make a list of our favorites by the letter of the alphabet corresponding with the "Days Till Christmas"!

So, today is the letter A (I sound like Sesame Street):

Apples - All three of us are HUGE apple lovers in all of its forms. Stu takes an "apple a day" to work with him, Kaden likes his steamed and sliced, and I love mine sliced with peanut butter or in my yummy Apple Crisp recipe!

Account - For once in our lives we enjoy what we see when we check out savings account. For as much as we complain about living here, we sure have been given a lot through this opportunity that would have taken us years to do by ourselves.

Air Conditioner - Even in November we have ours on all day. Thank God for Air Conditioning!

Arabic Bread - We all know how much I love this sweeter, thinner, yummier version of pita bread. (Stu was appauled when he learned that I ate garlic paste, Arabic bread, and fried rice (yep, together!) for BREAKFAST this morning).

Hope you like my newest countdown! And a good way to make sure I keep blogging! :) Enjoy!

Christmas Tree Shopping and Park Time!

This weekend Stu and I took Kaden to the park to run around. We remembered the camera this time so we got some pics of the slide and he actually warmed up to the “Horsie” and played on that for a while (last time he was terrified of it). We walked around the park for a while with Kaden leading the way.

There was this tree that grew (and subsequently dropped) these little white flowers. Here are some on the ground. They were pretty!
Then we went to Carrefour and picked out a Christmas tree and decorations for it and a tree skirt and here it is! If anyone needs the perfect time to move here, now is it! Everywhere has Christmas decorations galore and since National Day is on December 2nd (the UAE will be turning 37! Hehe) they have lights up around town that look similar to Christmas lights! It feels like the whole country is getting into the Christian Spirit! Even if it is accidental! So we came home and I set up the tree while Stu downloaded some Christmas songs and we danced with Kaden and explained “baby Jesus” to him using the 9 Dirham Nativity Scene with a blonde Mary and Jesus. Different. He petted the baby Jesus and said “niiigh” which means “nice” (we taught him this so he knows when to touch things gently… like Mommy’s hair or a puppy’s tail).
Anyway, so we’ve really enjoyed getting into the holiday spirit. Only 14 more days (!!!) until Mimi and Papa arrive (we still need to get towels! Lol) and we are sooooo excited. If anyone else wants an excuse to visit the UAE, take advantage of us being here and come see us!
Our Christmas Tree!
Stu was trying to get Kaden to show his teeth in the above picture. He now has 8 front teeth, 6 back teeth, and just this weekend got 3 eye teeth. Growing like a weed!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Perspective: Part III

This is an article that ran in The National (our local newspaper here in the Capital) that I think will give an interesting perspective about how terrorism also effects Muslims and not just Westerners, as we so narrow-mindedly think sometimes. This is about a local man who was caught up in the recent Mumbai attacks in a classic case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time:

It’s not enough for Muslims to be revolted by terror.

Sultan Al Qassemi
Last Updated: November 29. 2008 9:19PM UAE / GMT

"They knock on my door aggressively but I don’t open it, I stay very quiet.” The caller pauses briefly before continuing. “But I am fine.” These were the words of UAE national Rashid al Owais, a 40-year-old marble trader whose business took him to Mumbai last week. Rashid, a Muslim and an Arab, was among the hostages of the co-ordinated terrorist attacks by a cowardly crew of criminal gangsters. He was speaking to Dubai TV on Thursday night from his hotel room in the Oberoi Trident, where he had been holed up since the beginning of the siege. Naturally, the UAE was one of the first countries to condemn this “reprehensible crime”.

The situation of the UAE is unique: its ties with India go back hundreds of years, and it is a country where the peaceful Indian community constitutes a majority of the foreign residents. The Organisation of the Islamic Conference, an association of 56 Islamic states, also condemned the terror attacks stating that “these acts of violence contradict all human values and can be justified by nothing”. Nothing is the key word here.

Since the evil attacks of September 11, moderate Muslims dread the news of yet another “holy attack” in which the name of their religion – which means peace – is used as an excuse for bloodthirsty savagery. In fact there is an unannounced air of relief among Muslims whenever perpetrators of violent attacks turn out to be from non-Islamic fundamentalist backgrounds. Such was the case during the Virginia Tech university massacre in April 2007 in which 32 mostly students were killed by a South Korean.

We like to remind others that like Rashid al Owais, Muslims are victims of terror, too. We also are mindful of other notorious non-Islamic groups that perpetuate violence, including Eta in Spain and the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka. The latter are responsible for up to 60,000 deaths and more than 200 suicide attacks, one of which took the life of Rajiv Gandhi, the then prime minister of India. The perpetrators of last week’s Mumbai attacks could not have chosen a more powerful symbol of humanity than India, with its beautiful mosaic of ethnicities – a mosaic that will undoubtedly continue to shine despite the crimes of an unrepresentative minority who hijack Islam whenever the state of their miserable existence dawns upon them.

India is a proud nation in which the Hindu majority embraces many minorities such as Muslims and Christians, and where they are able to dream and flourish. This is the country of Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, who as a poor boy in the mid 20th century was forced to sell newspapers to pay for his studies, but who grew up to be elected as the 11th president of over a billion people earlier this decade. This is the country, too, of Azim Premji, a young Stanford graduate who had the opportunity to turn a fledgling family business called Western Indian Vegetable Products Limited, into a global software giant now called Wipro, making him until recently it’s richest citizen.

This is the country of Shah Rukh Khan, an orphaned Muslim boy who rocketed into movie stardom and yet respects the religion of his wife and continues to place the Holy Quran next to Hindu gods in his house. This is the country of the Taj Mahal, the most magnificent Islamic structure in the world, built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. But most importantly, this is the country of the everyday man and woman, Hindu, Christian and Muslim, who wake up each morning and often embark on a journey that could last several hours, leaving their loved ones behind in order to build better lives for their families. This vision of humanity is at odds with the beliefs of terrorists, brainwashed thugs who also leave their homes and embark on a journey – but in their case to commit murder.

It is not enough for moderate Muslims to be revolted by the attacks in Mumbai as we have been revolted by the attacks on the New York office towers, Amman wedding, London transport system, Madrid trains, Beslan school, Jerusalem pizzeria, Baghdad markets and numerous other places. It is time to take a serious stand against these perpetrators and reclaim our religion. Muslims must be more vocal in their sentiments regarding such criminals, and Islamic states must counter this behaviour proactively. To borrow from an unpopular phrase, the Islamic states must launch a psychological pre-emptive strike against these terrorists and more importantly those who encourage them. Muslim preachers who fail to condemn terror must either be re-educated or discredited completely, and those who excuse terror using certain conflicts as a pretext must be silenced because the poison that they spread today will come back to haunt us all tomorrow.

Some media outlets can also act as a conduit for the terrorists’ propaganda. The stories of reformed radicals such as Sayed Imam, also known as Dr Fadl, must be highlighted to the ignorant minority. Our message must be clear: “These acts of violence contradict all human values and can be justified by nothing.” Nothing.

Sultan Al Qassemi is a Sharjah-based businessman and graduate of the American University of Paris. He is the founder of Barjeel Securities in Dubai.

Go Broncos!

In cased you missed it, check out this highlights video here. Boises State KILLED Fresno State with 51 unanswered points on Friday night. It's 2006 all over again. Go Broncos!

Turkey Day

So we went over to Matt’s house for Thanksgiving dinner as I mentioned before. I really was a nice get together. We got there before other people started showing up (and Matt was still in jammies, hehe) so we got to chat some and watched Ratatouille while we waited for everyone else to arrive. Matt made the turkey, which turned out great and he also made some Stove Top and Green Bean Casserole. Stu and I brought my Nana’s Sweet Potato Casserole, which was fabulous if I do say so myself and several bags of rolls!

The other usuals, Mike and Tony also came. Tony brought his wonderful Potato Salad and his other friend Mike brought mashed potatoes. Kasey and Kyle came with two desserts and their Andrew who has gotten so big since we last saw him! He has a bunch of new words and now and he and Kaden played so well and were adorable together. There were only a couple minor arguments and otherwise they were best friends all night, which was wonderful since it made Kaden tired!

We had some fun waiting for Steve to arrive from Al Ain about an hour late (pictures to follow) playing “Where’s Steve?” We ended the night by watching episodes of Saturday Night Live and then Stu and I called it a night and had Kaden in bed by 10:30.

Here are some pictures from the night!

Kaden and Mommy ready to head over to Matt's house.

Watching our movie!

Kaden having a very serious conversation with Matt.

The spread!

The boys seeing if they can reach any of the goodies!

Kaden helping Matt make some calls.

Kyle: "Where's Steve?"

Playing like good boys.

Matt taking some MySpace pics while waiting on Steve.

Kyle's remedy to late Steve.

Kyle, Kasey, and Andrew
Getting caught having a sweet moment.
Mike teaching Kaden how to knock on wood.
Kaden LOVED Andrew's chair. Now he needs his own!
Stuffed Kyle.
Stuffed Matt.
Steve doing dishes after his late arrival and Kyle helping him.
Providing the evening entertainment: banging on the table.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Be Thankful.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and since we weren’t going to be celebrating it until today, Stu and I decided to take Kaden to the beach. Because on how many other Thanksgivings in his life will that even be an option? Lol. So we packed up and headed to Abu Dhabi Public Beach (which costs 5 Dirham to get into and is still just as dirty as the free beach… and with more ants).
We had a good time until Kaden face planted in the sand! Haha Poor baby.

We were both pretty bummed that we weren’t at my Mom’s house for food. But we tried to make the most of it. As always, there was no shortage of odd happenings. Yesterday I woke up to the sound of a helicopter in my bathroom. Apparently the fan is dying and it smells like hot electronics and sounds like a freaking Black Hawk screaming through vents. Since TITME, we can’t get a repair man until Saturday, inshallah. Which more than likely actually means Wednesday of three weeks from today. We will see.

Then poor Kaden is cutting his eye teeth (3 of the 4 at once) and is…. Well…. Not the happiest camper that ever did live. So we’re all getting through that as best as we can.

Last night we watched another Episode of Band of Brothers and then tried to go to sleep… with said chopper still lingering. It was tough and I know at least I didn’t get to sleep until well after one and then was reawakened just after seven from the fabulous noise.

Today we’re going shopping for groceries and then heading to Matt’s tonight for food. I will be sure to take some pictures.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my family and my true friends. I am also thankful for the opportunity we were given to get ahead for our future. I’m thankful for the perspective and cultural understanding I’ve gained since living here, and especially for my good fortune of being an American and all the wonderful things our country offers its citizens.

Here are pictures from OUR Thanksgiving! :)

Happy Happy Fun Time

Daddy dressed Kaden silly while Mommy was taking a shower and these are what I came out too! Haha.

And of course, a night is not complete without some wrestling!

This morning Kaden was having a blast with his toys on the couch.

Mumbai Attack

With the terror attack in Mumbai last night it makes me wonder if violence and hatred in this region will ever end. Are Muslims and Hindus destined to fight right up until Judgment Day? I woke up and got on my yahoo account to see the breaking news from our neighbor to the East, while watching delayed reports from CNN and Fox News (what would I do without AFN???). They even set the Taj Mahal ablaze. Do none of these terror gentlemen have any respect for preserving history??? Oh wait… no, no they don’t.

Reading that Three Cups of Tea book has gotten me very interested in learning more about the history of relations in India and Pakistan (and Afghanistan). I also want to read Taliban by Ahmed Rashid now to learn more. I don’t know a lot about the history of the Taliban other than the recent history of their climb to power in Pakistan and Afghanistan using madrassas to brainwash the illiterate children of poor, remote villages who knew no better. Islamic extremism is a scary concept, though not as much so as assuming all Muslims are terrorists. I know this region of the world is vastly misunderstood and I think there should be a more conscious effort by our government and private sectors to educate our people about Islam and it’s teachings as the majority of those who practice it see it. Instead, we hear about the extremists and terrorists who are grouped together by the media with regular Muslims. Although, having said that, did you know that until 9/11 Saudi Arabia and (*gasp*) The United Arab Emirates directly funded the Taliban? Fun stuff. Anywho, that’s it from me.

Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers (and a belated Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian readers). I hope everyone has a great day with family and a wonderful feast! We’re going over to Matt’s tomorrow to eat some turkey, so I will hopefully take some pictures and let you know how that goes!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Growing Up!

It blows me away ever day how much Kaden grows nonstop! We just received some pictures from Stu’s parents from when we were there and Kaden was soooo small. I forget how long we’ve been here sometimes. To look back at that barely crawling baby and now have him RUN up to me and ask me for “jew-sh”… it’s amazing the changes. So here is more “big boy”-ness. Here is Kaden eating his lunch yesterday. That’s right, no more chunks! He can take bites of his sandwiches now. So big!

And here is a MY-son moment. Watching his cooking show and “cooking” at the same time. Sigh. He makes me so proud! Last night he made “soup” for Stu and I and we all ate it out of the ladle.

We're STILL eagerly awaiting Mimi and Papa's arrival! The days are getting faster and faster now!

Beach Rules

Generally when you head to the beach there is a posted list of rules which usually are common sense such as "No glass" "Swim at your own risk" and "Clean up your dogs crap". Not here! As with everything else, you have to abide by a laundry list of rules:

Kaden says:

"Momma's spaghetti ROCKS!"

Monday, November 24, 2008

Three Cups of Tea

Ok, so I have to jump on the bandwagon with Marcia and recommend this book. It really is a great book illustrating the fact that one person really can make a difference to those who are less fortunate. Good read. You can find a copy here.

Stu and I are still excitedly counting down the days until Mimi and Papa arrive! Here is what is left of the HUGE chain that we started many many days ago!

And here Kaden is pulling Daddy on his car! :)