Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Stu picked out an Ansel Adams (my fave) picture puzzle for me. That was sweet and I hope it goes well. Kaden has been known to run (crawl) off with puzzle pieces in the past, so hopefully this one will get put together in its entirety.
We watched way too much TV this weekend though. On Saturday we were on the roof before 9 AM and it was so hot we were all miserable within 15 minutes. After hitting up Toys R Us and Marina Mall, we'd exhausted our "out" time and had to come home and make lunch for Kaden and put him down for nap. So Stu and I watched Apollo 13 on TV. We also watched Never Back Down last night and Untraceable and Madagascar 2 the nights before that. I'm basically TV'd out, but Kaden wanted to watch Cinderella this morning. Sunday mornings are worthless for cute kids' shows and since he decided to get up at 6:30, we have a long day ahead of us.
Now I am going to go get some house stuff done and play shapes with Kaden. 38 days until vacation!
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Bad quality, but gorgeous girl!
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
Thursday evening we went back to Zyng and it was yummy again. As expected, we're now known by the staff as "regulars" and the waitress greeted Kaden, "Hello baby, nice to see you again, Sir." He blushed. She swooned.
Stu was a doll and made me breakfast this weekend! French Toast and eggs with sausage and onion. It was wonderful and I got to wake up to the smell of coffee brewing (which he doesn't even drink). Then we did the usual shopping (which is ever more expensive, even though I have been frugalizing my menus even more lately. We're over a hundred bucks a week on raw ingredients for one week; it's ridiculous).
We got Cold Stone for dessert and then we walked around the mall and I got a bath pillow the tub! I was excited to make bath time even more relaxing. I got to try it out on Saturday while Kaden napped and it was great.
Yesterday was Father's Day and holidays are tough for us here because I can't easily head to a store (and even if I get to one, not the RIGHT stores), so holidays typically mean dinner and an art project. Heh. This was no exception. I drew letters for "DADDY" and then Kaden colored them and we hung them down the wall. And then we made a hanging banner strung across the hallway for Stu to see when he walked in. Stu said the effort we put in were way more meaningful than if we were to buy him a gift though. :)
I made him a dinner of roast chicken, stuffing (which he LOVES), mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans and corn with bacon, and rolls. Everyone liked it and then, per Daddy's request, I made Brownies for dessert. Stu got to have "his pick" for the evening so he picked popcorn and a movie... we only watched half of Oceans 13 since we got it started so late, but I think we will finish that tonight. All-in-all it was a nice Father's Day and Stu seemed happy about it, which is all that matters.
I hope everyone had a great Father's Day!
Friday, June 19, 2009
Brisbane woman raped then jailed for sex in United Arab Emirates
By Leanne Edmistone
June 19, 2009 10:02am
A BRISBANE woman was jailed for eight months in the United Arab Emirates for claiming she was raped by three men after her drink was spiked in a hotel bar.
The woman, identified only as Amanda, said she ordered one drink from the bar in the United Arab Emirates hotel she was staying, but then remembered nothing until waking up the next afternoon.
Amanda, interviewed on ABC radio this morning, said she was arrested after reporting her rape to police and later sentenced to 11 months' jail for having illicit sexual relations and one month for consumption of alcohol.
"I don't remember anything except for having that drink ... in one way that's a good thing but from what happened following, it's still an extremely traumatising,'' she said.
She was released five months ago after securing a royal pardon after serving eight months, and is now home in Australia.
She said the jails were overcrowded, inmates were often beaten and the water was frequently turned off.
Amanda said she had extensively researched the customs of the largely Muslim country before living there, but was not aware of the laws surrounding women and sex and drinking.
"It was such a glamorous lifestyle and at the moment there are so many Australians working over there,'' she said.
"It is a very glamourous lifestyle and you can make a lot of money but unfortunately there's the other side that people just aren't aware of.''
She said four high-ranking muslim men had to witness penetration to prove a rape charge, so women who reported rapes were typically seen as confessing to illicit sexual relations or prostitution.
"I can move on, and I'm working on that, part of my process is to help other people with awareness of what's going on and making changes,'' she said.
Amanda met with several state MPs this week to tell her story.
Amnesty International's Michael Hayworth said he sent a letter to United Arab Emirates officials, asking them to comply with United Nation's Women's Rights Conventions and remove discriminatory laws.
On our way back to the car after walking around for a while, there was an Arab guy about our age waiting for the elevator (too lazy to use the escalator I presume)... he was wearing a plaid "cowboy" collared shirt with the collar popped, unbuttoned to his (shaved) nipples, with black and blue skinny jeans and snake skin European-inspired shoes. He had on his sunglasses inside of course... wouldn't want to smash the faux-hawk. When Stu turned around to face me with wide, can-you-believe-this-shit?-eyes, I lost it. I started giggling so hard I thought I might pee. It was just another time I soooo wished I had a camera phone.
In good spirits after our run in with "Arab Cowboy", we drove into our neighborhood and Stu asked me if I wanted to "try driving". Feeling like a 13-year0old who has never driven, I get behind the wheel.... And I felt like a 13-year-old who had never driven! What the heck? I've been driving for years. But apparently 15 months of no driving makes one a klutz behind the wheel. I drove all through the neighborhood though and Stu is going to look into what it will take for me to get a license here. I MIGHT feel confident enough to drive here now. I've had plenty of passenger experience with the idiocy of the drivers and I think I'm ready to handle it. I'd rather go home. But because is sticking to his "December" plan, I'd rather have the ability to drive than not.
We've done nothing else of note yet this weekend. I read some after grocery shopping and tried unsuccessfully to take a nap (whatever passes the time, am I right?), but we are going to that little Asian place we like so much for dinner tonight.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
So, what happened was, Stu was driving along on his way home and there is construction going on where there were barriers on both sides of the two-lane road. A semi in the lane beside him decided without warning to drive into his lane. He slammed on his brakes but it still hit on the back corner of the truck. He said the whole front of the car was destroyed.
Poor Stu had to wait for over a half hour in the 117 degree heat for a replacement car from the rental place. The antics of the trucker caused two other cars to collide behind him as well, so the semi driver was cited for a 4-car wreck. Idiot.
It feels like an act of God that none of the wrecks have been with Kaden in the car, which is still my single biggest worry here. These people drive as fast as race car drivers (but nowherre near as well) on the highways. I'd like to think it's because of my nagging that we've been lucky, "Watch out, baby!" "He's coming into our lane!" "Whoa!" (though Stu always says, "Just let me drive!")
I can't WAIT to never have to be on these roads again once we leave. We even decided to rent a full-size car for our vacation because being teeny won't be as much of a factor of not crashing in NC. :)
Monday, June 15, 2009
Every few weeks when I was a kid, my Dad and brother would strip to their skivies and get the old clipper cut from my Mom. One of the rest of us (girls) would then be assigned the duty of sweeping up the hair. I remember thinking on more than one occassion that my future husband could get his butt to the barber because I wouldn't be performing such an obnoxious task. (One that she still performs every few weeks for both boys)
Sure enough, I've fallen prey to the idea that "20 bucks every two weeks is a waste of money when I can do it for free". I now foresee decades of future haircuts in my future. :)
But, this sad affair got me thinking about all the other ways I'm my Mom's twin and it just reminded me how fortunate I was to have such a great role model and friend growing up.
So here's to becoming my Mommy! Instead of the eye-roll or the panic that is usually associated with this epiphany, I gladly accept the honor.
UPDATE: This story did not end well... the hostages were found dead. See here.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
If only this were a sick, sick joke:
He woke up at about 7:30 this morning all chipper and rearing to go. I took his temperature and it was a cool 99. SO I have no idea what the freaking high fever was all about. Mary-Leah said to check for a rash because it could be this really common infection called Roseola, but so far no rash. Other than being uninterested in moving, he didn't show any symptoms at all. He ate fine, he waved and laughed with us from his make-shift beds on the living room floor and Mommy and Daddy's laps. So weird. I hope that was the end of it though because I just hate it when he is sick (and I definitely need more sleep tonight).
Stu took some pics of my new herbs I started growing last week (thanks, Mimi! :)). They have sprouted nicely and I'm looking forward to another little project. There are also chives too but I wasn't going to wait for a whole other upload to post this, hehe. :)
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
But, he's also been increasing his vocabulary daily and he surprises Stu and I EVERY day when he puts new phrases and sentences together on his own. Here is a list of my favorite Kaden phrases: (These are going to be written phonetically and then I'll put the real words in parenthesis)
"Come-ear!" (Come here) This is my absolute favorite phrase and he melts my heart every time he says it!
"Luh you" (I love you)
"Tittle belly!" (Tickle belly)
"Loooove da-da!" (or any other person, he take the initiative and says "Loooove papa-mimi" all the time too [Papa and Mimi are one entity to him. :)])
He also learned recently to say, "Bend your knees.... JUMP!" We taught him how to jump with this phrase so now he walks around saying it and jumping on his own accord.
He also has recently learned how to make jokes of his own. This started when he would walk around the house yell-singing "Mimi! Papa! Mimi! Papa!" over and over. Then I started to join in on his chant and he would LAAAUGH. So now it's a game, he will chant-scream "Mimi! Papa!" over and over until I join in and when I do he stops and doubles over from laughing so hard. It's freaking adorable.
Then, his newest joke is to say the wrong word for things. He will tell me he wants "more water" and then as I go get it he says, "Milk!" and I say "water!" and he laughs and repeats, "milk!" over and over. Same with shapes. He knows what a circle is every time, but he forgets the words for triangle and square so he comes to me to ask what they are and then when I tell him, "triangle" he smiles mischievously and says, "Circle!" and then laughs when I try to correct him, "No, 'triangle'." "Circle!" (laughter)
He makes me laugh so hard during the day now though and sadly, he really is my best friend. Lol. We get a new inside joke every day and I can't wait to see what his personality is going to develop into. Stu is always saying, "He sure is your son!" when he does Mom-like things. Just like Mom, he sleeps with a blanket over his head, he picks his food apart and eats it separately instead of together (we got this habit from grandma even, so it's really passed down! haha).
He also appears to have a skin fetish because any time Stu or I have exposed skin to likes to rub it and then give us kisses. So whenever I wear shorts he comes running up to hug my leg and then kiss it and when Stu is without a shirt he always has to kiss his belly! Funny, weird baby.
My baby has his own ways and personality! It's got to be strange for parents to watch this grow and develop as their kids get older and older.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Minimum standards for labour camps
Loveday Morris and Praveen Menon
Last Updated: June 08. 2009 11:48PM UAE / June 8. 2009 7:48PM GMT
Outside the workers accommodations in a labour camp on July 17, 2008. Philip Cheung / The National
ABU DHABI // Labour camps will have to meet new minimum requirements, including restrictions on the number of workers per room, under new regulations passed yesterday.As of September, municipalities will deny permits to new camps that fail to comply with the Manual of the General Criteria for the Workers’ Accommodation, according to a Cabinet decision announced yesterday.
Companies with existing camps will have five years to upgrade existing accommodation to the new standards.The manual, produced by the Ministry of Labour, sets out guidelines covering everything from health and safety and building materials to air-conditioning, personal space and bathroom facilities.Each camp must have a medical clinic “with full services” and with medical practitioners available 24 hours a day, including on religious and national holidays. No more than 10 workers can live in a room.
The decision shows the government’s commitment to “stamp out negative practices” that damage public interests and “derail the government plans to enhance human rights in general and workers’ rights in particular”, said Humaid bin Deemas, the director of the ministry.“This is not the first initiative of the government, and certainly will not be the last.”Mr Deemas said the ministry would try to ensure that companies did not take advantage of the five-year grace period, which he said had been granted “taking into account the requirements and challenges of the labour market and the current environment”.
“The ministry will make sure that the grace period and the gradual implementation will not be at the expense of workers and their rights,” he said.Labour conditions have come under scrutiny in recent years and the country has faced pressure to raise standards following criticism by foreign media and human rights organisations. A BBC documentary in March claimed that workers on some construction projects in Dubai were working in “inhumane conditions”.
The new guidelines supersede a similar set of minimum standards announced by Dubai Municipality in July 2007 that gave companies three years to improve conditions. Municipal inspectors had already been carrying out random checks and fining those not complying with their standards but the new national regulations give companies five years to comply. The Dubai Municipality said it would be happy to enforce the new regulations, which it said are little changed from its own.
“The federal authority has issued the rule and the local authority will be happy to ensure it is implemented,” said Salem bin Mesmar, the city’s assistant director general for health, safety and environment control. “Many camps already have these standards. However, there are some others who are still to comply.” Whereas Dubai said each workers must have 40 square feet (3.7 square metres) in personal space, the new guidelines reduce that to three metres.
According to the new rules, a bathroom with two toilets must be provided for every eight people. A shower area and laundry area should also be provided for every eight people.A kitchen “conforming to recognised public health standards” should be in every camp. All buildings must be brick or concrete and be at a “safe distance” from pollution and noise. Buildings should occupy a maximum of 65 per cent of the complex leaving the rest for parking, recreation, walkways and green space.
A shop and TV room should be on site.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Our family isn't perfect of course, we have the odd relatives just like every other family, but it's always been weird to me when families are not as close-knit as ours. Stu's family all basically live in the same state, most in the same little town even, and they don't even get together for the mostpart. Stu was talking to his Dad the other day and mentioned that it was a cousin's graduation. A cousin that in the years that I've known Stu, I've never heard mentioned. What? I talk about Hayley and Flower like they are siblings of mine. It's just so foreign to me, and even more strange when i realize how common that is. So many families don't get together like ours and when they do, it's often an obligation. Not with ours... the best get togethers are the ones with my family (ask any of my friends... lol. I even have an ex-boyfriend I can't get out of my life because he still likes my family so much that he goes to hang out with them still).
But my brother and sister are so old now. They have their own personalities and are absolutely such a pleasure to be around. And ALL of the women of my family are a riot. Before we came out here, I had rarely gone a month or two without seeing my family (and when Stu and I got together I made it clear that I had no intention of leaving the area because of the desire to be near my family... which he quickly shared). Now that we've been here, I haven't seen anyone except Mimi and Papa for a year now and it will be even longer than that until I see Justine again because she is going to be stationed in Germany. It sucks.
I just can't wait to get back home where I can be around positive, happy people once again. My sister (Maddison) relayed a story about a conversation between her and my mom in the car and I could just picture it and cracked up thinking about the two of them. It reminds me how important a good family structure and support system is to have. I want to make sure I pass on these types of values to Kaden and teach him how to be the best person he can be. Being around people who love life, or can take a humorous approach when things don't go well, makes you a better person.
Anyway, thanks, family, for being so awesome. I love you! :)
Last night Stu and I decided to walk down to the mobile phone shops on Defense street to try to find a car holder/charger for his ipod as well as a skin for it so he doesn't hurt it.
We got down there, which is less than a half mile away, and I accidentally brushed up against Stu's arm and felt... moisture. I was like, "Wow, you're really sweating" as I went to wipe it off my arm and found out that we were both... WET. Not just like that glisten you get on a terribly hot day in the States. I wiped down my arm (I was in a tank and jeans) and the moisture that had not yet been disturbed easily formed droplets and ran down and off me. And let me clarify, it wasn't all sweat. It is so humid here right now (90-100%) that moisture actually accumulates on your skin, hair, clothes, etc. Even before taking into account that it's ALSO freaking hot and that you're going to sweat when it's 108 outside. I had showered a few hours before and put my hair into a bun and when we got back home my hair was actually wetter than before we left the house (so were my pants, and my shirt was disgusting after the walk had created droplets that ran down my back...).
So those of you complaining about how "hot" it is... don't.
Stu also had to go into every single phone store (like 15 of them) before finally deciding on what he wanted. Poor Kaden was bright red in his stroller and just wanted to get back into the A/C. Next time, we don't leave the house until dark if we plan to be outside for any length of time. Noted.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
The rest of the weekend was fairly typical. We hung around the house a lot and Stu was thrilled to download songs and applications for his new toy (you would not believe the stuff they have for that thing!). He inspired me to wipe my mp3 player and start over. I realized the reason I avoid listening to it is because it was packed with crappy songs. So I deleted them all and started fresh. I only have about 150 back on there so far, but they are 150 better songs than constantly skipping through the "shuffle" function.
The only other thing worth noting is when we went grocery shopping this week (and once again I wish I had a camera with me), I went over to get some potatoes for the potato soup I am making this week and there were Idaho potatoes! Stu and I both got all excited (and frightened an unsuspecting Indian man who kept looking back at the potatoes for the inside joke).
Unfortunately, even though they were priced more than a dollar per kilo more than the potatoes I was picking through, they were all basically mush and covered in eyes. I guess it IS a long trip for a potato from Idaho. I had to snicker though when I told Stu that we were passing up our own potatoes for the Saudi variety. With that said, we will definitely "buy Idaho" when we get home, per Butch's request (seriously, people, how many states can say they have a Governor who answers to "Butch" and still take themselves seriously?).
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Tonight we went to Chili's for dinner (total clusterfuck, I might add) which was yummy and then came home with a bottle of wine in tow.
Nearing the end of our night, while Daddy danced with a diaper-clad Kaden as the new toons blasted from my speakers, Stu announced, "I think this may be the best investment I've ever made!"
I retorted with a wave of my ring finger, indicating my wedding ring was a better investment. His answer? "Yeah, but I can't control you with a touch screen." Touche.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
The drive there was mostly uneventful. There were a few moments of sudden braking and a few swerves, but for the Dhab, basically easy. We got to the mall and while I waited for my order of doughnuts and a coffee (which the woman could not have made any slower) Stu ran over to the gelato place to start his order. As I walked out of Krispy Kreme and toward him, I watched a Lebanese woman and her child walk up and stand very close to him. Stu looked down at the kid who was so close he was literally standing on him (on his foot) and said, "Watch it buddy, you're on my foot". Mom. Lost. Her. Shit. She started yelling at Stu screeching, "He's just a child!" Which pissed Stu off because he nicely asked the kid to move, so he retorted, "Then maybe you should teach him some manners". Wrong answer. She FREAKS out and starts making calls on her cell phone (in French, so I couldn't eavesdrop very well). She was glaring and pointing and yelling at us and gesturing to where we were sitting to the security guards and customer service ladies of the mall. Instead of awaiting the police and Stu's arrest, we decided to take our leave, with psycho-bitch following us and still squawking into her cell phone. Oppressed women are fierce. Haha.
So on the way home we faced obnoxiously obnoxious drivers. There was heavy traffic on 11th, basically stand-still. So we're patiently waiting and chatting while we wait (mostly about the crazy lady). This Emerati (the HUGE vehicle and real gold-rimmed sunglasses beneath his headdress gave him away) was right behind us in line. He decided to cut off the guy to his right (putting himself in the far right lane) and then (in still stopped traffic) inch in front of us with a dismissive wave of his hand (we're infidels, after all)... then make a left at the next light, so cutting off 4 more lanes of traffic in a span of about 20 yards. Sigh. Everyone here thinks they're better than the next guy. So, as a means of therapy, we turn on Ludacris' "Move Bitch" and play it too loud the rest of the way home (watch the music video here. WARNING: Explicit lyrics). Stu was bummed that I wouldn't let him roll down the windows with it blaring.
Want more UAE traffic nightmares? Check out Kundi's post today.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Now? I guess I've become jaded. I read it basically nodding or shaking my head in regret for the ignorance of some people (whole countries of people), but not being wholly surprised in any way. I've heard countless similar stories since I've been here. It should feel amazing that people are living in such dire circumstances in this day and age, but it's not. I've seen first-hand the result of men thinking (knowing, in their minds) that they are better, more entitled, and naturally more intelligent than women. Part of me, as a relatively intelligent woman, wants to feel severely angry toward these men, but another part of me knows that a reaction such as anger is exactly what they want, because it means they have control over you.
It's like back in grade school. You don't let the bully see you cry or he has won. I've done it here, I've shouted at men for staring. I've glared back at ones leering at me and licking their lips. And you know what they do? They smile as sinisterly as they can muster and it only reminds me that with ignorant men, they win if I give in. Instead I now fantasize (while I walk by them with my shades on in an effort to ignore them) about kidnapping them and taking them to my own country and turning them loose on a gang of Dykes on Bikes of seriously scary women.
Luckily, God thought enough to me to allow me to be born an American, and for that I am grateful. In a matter of months I will get to return to men who only stare because they appreciate what they see, not to remind you that they think you're a whore because you're fair skinned and haired and Western (infidel). It will be a refreshing change of pace to be generally ignored.
Feel like a sad dip into the painful lives of Saudi women? Read it.