Monday, August 30, 2010

Last Supper with Mark

Last night we had our last supper with Mark. His family is already in Houston waiting for a wonderful reunion in their new home! He flew out of Doha with dog, Barley back to Texas just a few hours after we said our farewells. The LaRovere's will now reside just seconds away from our old stompin' grounds in Cypress, Texas! We're thrilled they'll be in reaching distance when we're home to visit but we totally ticked off that they moved away!!! Seriously, I'm having a few issues.

We enjoyed a good old American Fave, although they offered us Fudd's Iftar Special. Thought this was interesting. Ridiculous amount of food for a pretty decent price.
(drink, soup, appetizer, burger, and dessert for less than $20)

Georgia telling Daddy to stop working and get off his Crackberry!

Mr. Mark getting some baby girl love before he heads home to his little boys.

So I guess its real. They're really gone. We love you and will miss you so much. God's best blessings to this sweet family who will be life long friends.

Ramadan Kareem

Ramadan is a month long fasting period when Muslims don't eat, drink, smoke, chew gum or have "close realtions" with the opposite sex during daylight hours. I think the traditions and ideas of Arabic and Islamic culture are fascinating. They run deep and are faithfully observed which I respect, even though we don't practice the same religion. Last Tuesday marked the half way point, "Garangaou" in the month of Ramadan. "Garangaou" is celebrated by children singing traditional songs and collecting sweets and nuts in little bags. The Arabic teachers at ASD went to all the classes and gave every student a bag of Skittles to celebrate at school. Nick also brought home this little bag full from a co-worker. Pretty but not our taste.

On Thursday night Nick and I attended his company Iftar dinner at the Ritz. The whole company gets together for a big dinner party. Iftar is the evening meal when Muslims break their fast together. Its usually an enormous spread of food no matter where you eat. The Ritz had very traditional Middle Eastern food as well as some international foods. Its a treat to say the least.
This was a Middle Eastern affair no doubt about it.

Outside the ballroom where the food was served.

Inside the ballroom

Juice Station with a wide variety of juices (none of which I was familiar with)
They were very very sweet. Juice cocktails are very popular. There are "juice stalls" on every corner of Doha. Alcohol isn't served because Muslims don't drink.

Local food station complete with Shwarmas, of course. Delish! Shwarma is probably the most popular food around these parts. Basically a middle eastern chicken sandwich. Arabic bread wrapped around chicken shaved off the skewer (pictured below) plus garlic sauce, lettuce tomato and a french fry or two (yes a french fry).

One of the dessert stations.
I didn't get a picture of the chocolate fountain, waffle station or ice cream bar...INSANE!

The Falcon is the treasured bird of Qatar. Used for hunting and associated with prestige and wealth. Falconry has been popular for thousands of years apparently and now its a huge business, plus a national symbol. The bird-hater in me was happy to take a picture.

Jennie and me loungin'
...not really, I just wanted a quick pic on the sassy pillows on the entry way floor.

Just 2 more weeks and Ramadan is over. A few random facts that affect me in a personal way both good and bad during the month.
  • No eating, drinking or even smuggling a Mento in public (inside the car is still considered public)
  • Children and pregnant women are excused from fasting (wonder if there's any exceptions for nursing moms :) ha! Its just too hot not to have a cold drink nearby at all times!
  • Restaurants don't open til 5:30pm and don't serve til the sun is down. (about 6:15)
  • Malls, grocery stories and local businesses each choose their own hours, nothing opens or closes at a set time but everything is usually closed for most of the afternoon.
  • Everything is open at night, which means complete chaos at malls and grocery stores. We just don't go.
  • ASD is the only school that started before Ramadan. Other students and families are still enjoying summer traveling, so there are a lot less cars on the road. = GREATNESS!
  • Those that are fasting - work half-days, stay home, take naps and mostly go out after dark...meaning even less traffic!
  • Since there isn't any traffic Nick has been able to take Brooks to school, which we all enjoy.
Ramadan Kareem!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Georgia this week...

Georgia found her piggies!

Grabby Gus! (God bless the 5 year old playmat that lost its toys) Mama's gettin' this girl a new one! Lord knows what it will look like since we'll have to buy it in Doha. Might have hanging camels.

Georgia had her first play date. Heidi was born just after we left to come home for the summer so this was our first time to meet her!

Check out the head of spikey hair on Heidi's head. Its awesome!

Heidi's mama, Anni and I are friends from Bunco. She and her husband are from the UK but have actually lived as expats in Houston. When we were visiting I asked if they sold Mylicon drops anywhere in Doha because Georgia has been gassy . Anni looked very confused until I confirmed that Georgia has "wind". I loved it...especially when Anni said it in her beautiful British accent. Yes, Georgia has wind and Anni generously gave us some drops to relieve the wind. Same exact ingredient as Mylicon...just the British version and its orange flavored.

Super entertained by the feet!

Sweet little paws!

I love and miss you ALL this much!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

He's a Dragon!

And now's he's a ASD Dragon! The American School of Doha is where Brooks proudly walks into school every day. We are so excited to be apart of such an incredible school. Its honestly a privilege to go there and we are blessed. ASD is a private school...proabably the only private school our children might ever go to...the Baylor money tree needs to start producing or else!
This is a snap of Brooks and the Dragon at "Meet the Teacher" day. As the year goes on I'm anxious to take more pictures as a reminder of how Americanized this school is. Its one of the very few places in Doha that feels like it could be smack dab in the middle of Houston, Texas. Gotta love that feeling when you walk in the door.

After we met Brooks' teacher we went directly to the uniform store to purchase what Brooks has to wear for P.E. He had that thing on before we were home! I hope P.E. turns out to meet all his expectations. He's pretty pumped! Not a great picture since the humidity attacked my camera when we walked outside.
Emery and Brooks in their PE Dragon Uniforms

First, roarin', ready to go!

I'm trying to be intentional about taking notice of how fast my babies are growing up! Its easy for me to get caught up in the day to day blah and miss out on little things that prove to be monumental moments for these sweet ones.
Going to ASD this year was a big step and might soften the blow for when this little man starts Kindergarten. I was feeling a little sad about such a smooth big boy day!

I realizedthat Brooks has literally grown as a person. Not just grown physically but he's developed a sense of confidence I've never seen before. I was so proud and so sad at the same time. Just a teeny baby step of sending him off and helping him to be more and more independent. Ugh...I'd rather not! A year ago, I might have tagged him as the "shy", "nervous", "scared" or "behind the scenes" type kid! Not any more. He's still cautious but no doubt confident.

Brooks and Mrs. Chaplin.
Mrs. Chaplin is from South Africa. She's unbelievable. Brooks regularly tells me what she talks about at school and I'm lovin' it! She kinda reminds me of a Mary Poppins...runs a tight ship but super cheery!

Brooks and his cubby.

One last good bye from the rest of the gang.

One day I will look back at this and wonder what I was doing with my hair? That would be NOTHING! Not because there wasn't time (although it was limited) but because its a waste of time and not worth the effort. I can't begin to describe the heat and humidity of Doha so I'll let my hair do the talking! (highlight and cut coming right up!)

This pic is at the Elemtary School entrance after picking up our little Dragon on the first day. See the 2 little dudes squinting and the stroller. Its so bright and did I mention hot? Not like oven hot, more like bonfire hot! There's no going inside to pick up the PreK kids from their class. We wait outside, thankfully in the shade until each teacher escorts their class out to the parents or nannies in a lot of cases. And the parking lot is crazy. Its like parking on the moon as my friend Biny would say. It just a rocky, white"ish", sandy surface with no organization. Lots of the kids have personal drivers and like any other place in Doha, people drive and park how they wish! No doubt my car will be bruised in that lot!

Its worth every bit of hassle and traffic to get the Dragon to school.
He loves it and we're excited to be there.

How bout this little muffin!

Dragon and Muffin!

These are my first ever edited photos. Just getting my feet wet with photo editing and I could use all kinds of help.

Back to Doha Days

Guess who....old friends from Baylor and Houston, new friends to Doha! We couldn't be more excited to welcome the Harris family to Doha. I'm quite sure the Harris's will make a lot of showings on our Doha Days Blog.

Emery and Georgia

Cres, Brooks, Bear

So we spent 4 hours (seriously) at Bennigans this day for lunch and play time. All of us, including a few other moms needed the outing to kick our jet lag and enjoy eating in public! Ramadan started the next day which means fasting during daylight hours. So the restaurants are ALL closed until sundown.

Bennigans isNOT my fave back home but since they provide this incredible play room...thank you for the 4 hours!

Linsday and me (poor Cres, missing his nap)
Linsday and were Pi Phis together at Baylor. We share some fun memories and now get to make more in Doha! Its pretty cool that our husbands and kids get a long too!

Emery, Georgia and Macie

Swimming with the Duncans

Only exciting to us is this picture...Bear's first time to really swim!

Hot and still Happy!

More swimming...

and cliff diving

and napping

We don't always make this poor girl lay out in the desert sun. She's been hangin' in the bumbo.

Lunch with Cres and Emery after more swimming