Saturday, September 26, 2009

Musings About Perspective, Part 3

I know I’ve kind of been off the grid for a few days, weeks, whatever. Sorry about that. I’ve been pretty busy doing the hurry-up-and-wait thing, which sucks. After deciding I would go home early to buy a house, we’ve been stuck in this weird place of rushing to get everything to the lender, and now just waiting for a go-ahead from her. Part of why I haven’t been blogging is because I feel kind of weird about the feelings I’ve been having regarding leaving and I’m not sure how to word it right. (But you know me! I’m going to give it a go regardless :))

On one hand, I’ve been excited to leave here since I arrived, just persevering for the most part. But as soon as I’m faced with the opportunity to finally go home, I’ve become accustomed to being here and I… ahem… like it. I didn’t expect to accept my life here as anything other than a temporary hardship for our family until we can get back home and start living the life we’ve been striving for. But something happened in the past few months, and that something is apparently acceptance (the elusive 5th stage, for those who are keeping track, heh). I don’t have that NEED to get away anymore and I think I finally understand how some people come here and stay for years and years. It always used to shock me when I met people who’d been here longer than a year or two, but now I understand how this lifestyle can become commonplace in your mind, and not just weird. And you can get to a point where you like it.

So now, it basically sucks. Because instead of rushing away from here without looking back, before I’ve even left I’m already regretting leaving the things I will miss. People aside, (which is going to be the hardest part by far, leaving my friends) I know I’m going to miss the weather, hot as Hell though it may be, I haven’t felt cold in MONTHS other than just turning to the A/C too far down. I’m going to miss the malls and all their excessive splendor and d├ęcor. It’s become habit to head to a mall and have dinner somewhere. Going to dinner is a different experience in America. I love that, but this fits, too.

And I think that’s finally the bottom line. With acceptance came a strange sort of longing for my life here. Yes, I can’t wait to get Verizon back and be on the messaging front lines once again (and make up for lost time, hehe. Prepare yourselves!). I can’t wait to drive myself, without the threat of death every time I belt up. I can’t WAIT to be nearer to my family and all my friends that I missed so much. I can find everything I need to cook my favorite dishes at one store, etc.
But each of those things, that used to feel so important, now has a counter to them in this life.

I’m used to Etisalat and their fees and poor customer service. I’ll probably never get another text in Arabic again after I leave here. :) I’ll probably even miss the adrenaline rush that comes with buckling up here, and the excitement of going to Spinneys for the “good stuff” as a treat, not just being able to get it easily from any old store.

I certainly won’t miss washing dishes by hand. I won’t miss my combo washer/dryer that doesn’t actually dry. I won’t miss my life being covered by a haze of sand 24/7. I won’t miss being glared at, or feeling uncomfortable in a tank top or shorts. I definitely won’t miss the excessive prices on everything from food to clothes.

But again, this fits, too. Who knew? :)

The biggest thing is leaving Stu. Looking back over the past two years is a trip. We were completely different people when we got married. I know we loved each other then, but we’ve come full circle as far as maturity goes. We’ve developed from single, selfish-minded people into a unit. We’re always “we” and “us” now and it’s so much better for both of us. And I KNOW that. We’re so much happier than we were when we ever were back home and that has all been because of this experience forcing us to lean on one another exclusively because we didn’t HAVE any other friends or family to turn to. In retrospect, coming here was probably the best thing we could have done for us as a couple and as parents, let alone for our bank account. So leaving, quite literally, my other half, here all alone and going to America all alone with our son is scary for me in ways I’ve never considered before. I’ve never loved this man more than I do today. And it keeps getting better with each week that passes and we make more memories and jokes and fun.

All this time we’ve been planning when “we” were leaving and I always pictured us doing all of this together. But once again, life has its own way of doing things, and I think me being forced to do things on my own without being codependent will make me a stronger person, and Stu relying on himself instead of having everything done for him will help him appreciate the things I do a bit more (not that he doesn’t, but the guy hasn’t had to wash his own drawers for over two years now). So again, this can be such a good thing for our relationship. How many couples have the opportunity to take a step back from their marriages and re-appreciate what they have in each other? (I still think it sucks though and I’m going to whine a bit more about it from time to time)


Here are some pictures of this week. Thank you Marcia, Mo, and Mimi for boxes! It was great to get them all at the same time! Kaden is having a hay day with his new Cars stuff and we’re LOVING our snacks. And Mo, thanks a MILLION for the new crafting projects to keep up busy for the next few weeks! Great idea!

Kaden leading the way at the park.







The fountain at the park (and Kaden getting more sunblock on... always with the heat, hehe)

After our Macaroni Grill experience, I invented this mushroom sauce for whole wheat pasta that is seriously sooooo close to the sauce on the ravioli at MG. I'll have that flavor yet! Stu said it made the top 5 of his favorite meals that I make. :)

Kaden with his new Cars bowl. He loves it!

Asking Daddy if it is McQueen in his bowl.

New Cars sunglasses! One cool kid!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Eid in Dubai.

Eid Mubarak everyone! Stu has a few days off for Eid, which is wonderful, so we decided to celebrate and to break up the days off, we would head to Dubai for some R&R time. We got up in the morning and got all packed up and headed off after an early lunch. We arrived in Dubai and checked into our hotel room at the Le Meridien (after a slight near-catastrophe because I forgot my passport and they almost didn’t let us check in). The room was beautiful and nicely equipped for the price.

We headed off to Dubai Festival City, which is really just a glorified mall, and we walked around for a few hours and took in a HUGE two-story Toys R Us which Kaden didn’t want to leave, before going to Macaroni Grill for dinner.

We got seated and were starving by the time Iftar started and we decided to have the Iftar feast (it was the last day of Ramadan, why not?) We had a Shrimp and Spinach dip for an appetizer, which was absolutely amazing, the bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and we ordered tomato basil soup (holy crap yum!), garden salad, Mushroom Ravioli for the main course and Tiramisu for dessert. Let me just say that aside from my favorite meal of mushroom fettuccine in Italy, this was the best meal I’ve had in over a year and a half. I absolutely HAVE to get the recipe for the ravioli. It was amazing.

Afterwards, we walked near the canal a bit and then headed back to the hotel for some relaxing. We all got showers and got cuddled down and then watched part of a movie before turning in for the night. I learned two things last night. First, a hate feather pillows. The bed was amazingly comfortable, but Stu and I both slept terribly because the pillows were so terrible. Second, my son talks in his sleep. I thought he was just awake and talking so I went over to his bed to lay him back down but he was already laying down and his eyes were closed. I was like, “Kaden?” and he sniffed and rolled over. I heard him a few more times, odd baby. Lol

We got up around 7 and cuddled for a bit before heading down to breakfast. Now, 50 bucks for breakfast for two people IS pretty steep, but BOY was it good! I had an omelet and several items from the continental section (fruit, breads, jam, fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, etc) and Stu had awesome eggs Benedict. Stu and Kaden headed up to the room when Kaden started to get a bit bored and I got to enjoy the rest of my toast and coffee in peace and quiet. Quite the treat!

We got dressed in swimwear and headed for the pool (1 of the 3). Kaden was a bit timid and was pissed when he thought it was the “ocean” and couldn’t locate his Momma E anywhere. We enjoyed some relaxing quiet pool time and then headed back to the room to get ready to head home.

We got to see a herd of camels on the way to Abu Dhabi, which is always fun. And then, we saw the completed “round” building they have been working on for a long time.

We all agreed it was a very nice mini-vacation for everyone.

Here are some pics from the mini-trip. I apologize in advance for the excessive amount of black and whites. After a year of having our camera, I finally started reading the book it came with and learned how to take B&Ws. Because I already have a TON of pics of Dubai in color, I took most of these without.


Kaden ready to head to Dubai!
Daddy getting some snacks for the trip.
Burj Dubai. Getting ever taller.



Le Meridien.


Kaden checking out the room.


The obligatory self-portrait. :)


Kaden thought the closet was the coolest part of the room (it had a sliding door).


Slippers and stuff.


An espresso machine in the room. I definitely took advantage of this lovely contraption! :)


We were still in a Muslim country so I had to find the arrow to Mecca. Here it is! On the bed side table.


Tons of fun freebies! (And that flower was real)


I do believe this was our first 5 star hotel.


The carousel at Dubai Festival City.


Myself on a bridge over the canal.


This one is just for Mo! :) We thought of you.

Kaden driving a Ferrari

"Sinus-sores!"

This dragon growled and roared. Loud.

Kaden by the pool (he looks mad in this pic, but it was really just sunny.)

Is this picture not the epitome of vacation or what? :) Love it!

My boys enjoying swimmin' time!

Time to head home! Sleepy baby.

If you look closely, you can see 3 or so camels.

And here is the odd round building. :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Musings About Perspective, Part 2

So, I wasn't even going to write this blog. Stu and I had a conversation yesterday that could just as easily have remained private, but it also illustrated just exactly how far we've come and how much we've changed since moving here over 18 months ago...

I was forwarded an email (and I know a lot of you got the same one) about an upcoming gathering of Muslims in Washington DC (for the close of Ramadan this year). The forward encouraged us to check out the website and "read the last line" in the website which said "Our Time Has Come." The email thought we should be very afraid.


So here's the thing. I remember 9/11 like it was yesterday, too. I can share my story about where I was and what happened just like every other American can (and in fact got a scholarship in college for an essay I wrote about the subject, hehe). And sure, maybe two years ago, I would have read said email and looked through the website, and maybe it would have inspired fear. But not this day. It pains me to even say this, but having live along-side Muslims for this long, I can assure you, they may not have a very good sense of humor, and they may be more reserved than Americans, but they are not terrorists. Not the majority. Just like all of the NRA rednecks in Northern Idaho are not Aryan Nations followers (regardless of how shaved their heads may be).


Stu came home and was talking about how one person in the forward had said we should be terrified of this upcoming gathering, he said, "that's just ignorant". This is the key thing here. Sure, there are bad people in this world, but it isn't one culture or one religion. Just as in illiterate, backwoods Alabama, preachers can convince their followers that the black man is the Devil incarnate and to hate them, so can Imams in Northern illiterate Pakistan convince their followers that the Koran says white people and their ways are inherently evil and they should kill them. But that doesn't mean the majority of either of these religions are evil future killers on the loose.


I do not speak Arabic, so I cannot tell you for sure what the Koran does say, but for the most-part, the Muslims I know, just like the Christians and Pagans I know, are a peaceful people who are just misunderstood. Maybe if everyone else would try to look a bit further than the surface of things, they might feel more comfortable with other people's differences. Life is about balance, not about being right and wrong all the time. I just want to be a bit more balanced.


So here's the thing: I'm still a Republican, Idaho girl at heart. I'm not about to burn my bra or hug a tree, or fly a rainbow flag, but if living here has taught me nothing else, I've realized how dangerous ignorance can be. A little perspective goes a long way. A bunch of Muslims meeting on Capitol Hill is nothing to get worked up over. Seriously. Let them practice their religion in peace.


Me with my favorite Muslim :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Night-Night!

I have it so easy when it come to putting my son down for the night!

video

Charmaine's Baby Shower!

Sorry I haven't updated in a few days. It's been hectic here (Weird, you say? I know, right?) for the past week or so.


This weekend was another great one. Thursday night we met Dan and Mike at Cantina Laredo for Mexican food, which we haven't had in WAY too long and I filled up on Queso before my meal even arrived.

Friday started early for me, making chimichangas to take to Charmaine's surprise baby shower (woot woot!) and then heading to Toys R Us to pick up some gifts for her. We picked out a baby bath tub that was adorable as it came with a froggy slip-resistant bottom, a couple of bath toys, and a cup-thing for pouring water. Stu insisted that because our gift was for the baby's parents, the baby deserved a gift as well. He picked out a Kaden-approved favorite from his early baby days (a box with shapes cut in the lid and the baby finds the right hole for each shape... in reality they are just really great teethers).


I headed off for an afternoon with the gals. It was wonderful and I finally got to see Miss Eva again (!!!). I hadn't seen her since she left for Pakistan several months ago and it was so wonderful to see her and catch up and of course to see the other ladies as well. Kundi so graciously offered up her house for the festivities and she and Lindsay worked the whole morning getting things ready for the day. Kundi baked cookies and Lindsay decorated them and a cake that said "Welcome Baby Choy". So cute! We had a great time chatting and waiting for the lady of the hour.


After the food and gifts were done, we headed into the kitchen to dye some yarn! I had never seen this done before and was eager to see the process. Lindsay was awesome and gave me two skeins of naked yarn to dye! (And yesterday we hit the store so I could pick out some circular needles to put that yarn to good use with a pattern I picked out! :))


It was fun to do, especially when you pull it out and it slightly varied throughout. I think it looks beautiful and I can't wait to see how it turns out when it's all worked up!


We ended the night with pizza and poker at our house, which has become the weekly thing (although it was inside this time because the A/C broke upstairs, which meant no smoke and cool air). We had a really good time. Lots of laughs and stories. Stu ended up winning (I came in third), so it ended the night on a pretty good note! :)


On to the rumors: After much deliberation, we've decided that Kaden and I will leave here in the next month or two, to go back to Boise and get the process started on purchasing a home (and two cars, furniture, appliances, get enrolled in school, Kaden in daycare, on and on and on...). It's a huge bummer to even THINK about being apart for several months after we've gotten so used to spending so much time together, but this is basically the only way it is all going to work out and us not have to miss a semester of school getting everything ready once we get back. So Stu will be staying here until we'd originally planned and Kaden and I will be leaving in a few weeks to a month or so.


I keep getting almost nauseous feeling about the whole thing. It feels so fast after having only ever just talked about it up until this piont. It's never felt very real and suddenly it's not only real, but happening a few months earlier than I'd anticipated, and (probably my worst fear) I have to once again travel across the planet with my two-year-old all by myself. Ugh. BUT, I made a condition that I not have to connect in the freaking European Union ever again, so I am flying from Abu Dhabi straight into Chicago (!!!) with only one more connection to Boise! Hooray for Etihad! Granted, it's still 27 hours of entertaining a crabby monkey all by my lonesome, and a 5-hour layover once I make it to Chicago (which conveniently be at OUR 4 AM), but it's in America! Yay for America!


We're trying to make the most of it and remind ourselves that this is really the only way for things to go as we want them to go, but it still does just suck. We'll miss Thanksgiving, Christmas (!) and New Years with Daddy. :( We will probably wait to celebrate "our" Christmas until Stu is back, but it makes me sad to think he'll be here all alone for Christmas (his idea, btw, not mine. :))


Here are the pics from the baby shower:





























Assembling party favors.

Waiting around for the guest of honor.

The gift table.

The adorable cookies Kundi and Lindsay made!

The shoes... can anyone guess which ones are mine??? (Yep, the boring black flip flops. Hehe)

More waiting and chatting.

"Surprise!"

Look at that bump! :)

Quite a spread, huh? It was sooo good.

Assembled to watch the gift opening.

These gals sure can knit. There were so many creative gifts!

(This would take me ten years to knit.)

Hehe. A Kangaroo... for the Australian Mom-to-be. I thought that was a great idea!

Myself and my Eva! Finally!

The baby bath tub we got them.

Lindsay showing us her fabulous cake creation!

Rama sporting a make-shift apron for the yarn dyeing.