Sunday, November 29, 2009

Weekend in Bahrain

Last week we returned from a short holiday in Bahrain to visit friends. It was so nice seeing old friends, one set of which also has a baby - an eight month old. Between their family and ours, the host family (a couple without kids) didn't stand a chance. They saw first hand that with little ones, you don't often get out of pajamas until noon unless forced, could go days without leaving the neighborhood (except for a trip or two the grocery store to get food...for the babies), and going to Starbucks can be as exciting as a night out used to be. They are probably either scared off having children permanently (nah, they loved it...I think) or are seasoned to the fact that vacations after kids will be quite different than what they're used to, however exotic - or not - the destination.

Despite our inability to conquer a new city with the gusto we once could, we did see enough of Bahrain to get a feel for it and had a lovely brunch at a restaurant that served famous, sweet, peach iced-teas the size of a wine carafe. Heavenly. Plus, Bahrain is just one of the bazillion places Richard has lived before, so I can claim to know more about the country than I do simply by association. From what I did see, Bahrain looks a lot like Doha, topographically, though you run across many more signs to Saudi Arabia than you do in Doha (simply because Doha is on the opposite side of Qatar that borders Saudi, not because they aren't there). It didn't stop being weird seeing next exit to "Saudi Arabia." Bahrain is apparently a more relaxed country, in terms of Muslim conservatism (ie: I think there are bars that serve alcohol and places you can buy pork). Perhaps on the next visit we can manage a trip to a museum or something...but I won't count on it unless said visit is at least when our children can walk, feed and dress themselves.

Interestingly though, on our way back to Qatar in the Bahrain airport I was surprised to see a man going through security in a white towel - over his shoulders and around his waist. (Think - a person exiting a sauna...except this person is dropping his bag on a conveyor belt in an airport). It was both comforting and alarming when I looked beyond and saw dozens of men dressed in white towels, until I realized they were on their holy trek to mecca - a journey called Hajj in the Muslim culture. Faithful Muslims are meant to take this journey at least once in their lifetime and it can be quite dangerous as millions arrive at one place, at one time, to live out what is the apex of their religious journey in life. It was interesting to see and I commend them for their bravery in doing this.

"What is this kid doing sharing my Mommy's lap? Not cool."

MY Mommy.  (This will be interesting come April...)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

So very thankful, today & everyday

Happy Thanksgiving!

We had a fabulous Thanksgiving here in sunny Doha, complete with putting up our first ever Christmas tree (now that we aren't in NYC, we finally have space for one!), stringing ornaments, burning cinnamon spice muffins beyond anything edible, and dancing around in our pajamas to the American greats - Sinatra, Etta James and the beloved Billie Holiday. In the afternoon we then headed to holiday brunch at the Ritz with friends (I skipped the turkey and ate my weight in hummus, as is typical for me this pregnancy), topped off with an impromptu evening at another friend's villa sitting under the stars. We are thankful for so many things this year - the health of our family, the delight that is our daughter, the active and healthy babe in my belly, and the love and laughter that we share as a family.

As for the holidays, we're (I'm) in full swing. After missing Easter by a week and a half this year (and by "miss Easter" I mean, I had absolutely no thought, no recollection, no subconscious nugget surfacing until over a week had passed and someone asked me what the Easter Bunny brought Isabelle), I was determined not to let another holiday slip pass me just because we were in a different country and didn't have mass media to gear us up. Missing Easter was a good, rookie expat slip-up that I've learned from. While it's always up to each family to decide how or to what extent they want to celebrate the holidays or create memories that will become part of their children's childhood, it requires even extra effort when you don't have grocery stores, TV commercials, or general public surroundings helping you get "in the spirit" (or in my case at Easter, remind me). So over the next month or so you will find holiday music on the stereo, stockings hung & presents wrapped, and even the occasional stove top potpourri of orange peel, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves seeping from the kitchen. Come one, come all - but I may insist on topping your coffee with whipped cream and red sprinkles.

Isabelle turned 16 months a few days ago and seems to be growing and changing with each minute. In the last four weeks the most notable change has been her vocabulary, which exploded practically overnight. Our favorite words of hers are please (peeeas), thank you (ganku), happy! & I love you (I wa-u)...we melt every time. She is very proficient at always saying please when she wants "dat!" - we hear it no less than a dozen times each hour as there is always something she's after (and generally speaking, unless danger is involved, she often gets what she wants as hearing a baby say "peeeas" is near impossible to refuse, however often you hear it). A cow officially goes "Moo!" instead of "Boo!" and she snorts when you ask her what sound a pig makes. Our favorite animal sound is the elephant, which she makes along with the arm motions indicating the trunk going up of the elephant. We have a couple of books and flash cards that she fires through with enthusiasm now and doesn't miss a beat ("truck!," "car!" (always followed by "zoom" and her hand moving quick across her body to indicate a car speeding by, "baby!", "flower!" (flougher), "owl!," "pig" (piiig), "duck" (duuk - always followed by "qak qak qak!" and so on and so forth). She will ask for us to roll out the paper (pa-pa) when she wants to draw and will point to the moon in the evening or a plane flying by and tell us clearly what it is.

She has a favorite animal, her Jellycat stuffed bunny, whom she calls "Hop Hop." And for about the past month and a half, has been announcing to us every time she's about to go "pee pee" or "poo poo." Even though she warns us about any upcoming diaper activity, she still exclaims "No!" and runs for the hills when we offer to take her to the toilet (or her kiddie toilet). We're not pushing it; we just thank her and get ready to change her diaper. Nursery school has been going well, for the most part. She was teething quite badly so one week was a bit rough, but last week she went 3 days a week from 730-10:45am, which seemed to work out well. She enjoys the playtime with the other kids but seems ready to come home by the time I get her. I think that may change when she graduates to the age class above her, as they seem to do a bit more running around, which I know she would love.

We are sending you love from Doha. xx


Isabelle happy as a clam in her pajamas, eating fruit and yogurt

Our Christmas countdown chain

Stringing the "shatter-proof" bulbs

After Thanksgiving brunch - buckled over after the feast

Big day, big fun, big tired


In honor of her Dutch heritage, Isabelle takes a jaunt in her clogs after bath

Wiped out after an afternoon at the pool
{19 weeks}

{Silly baby girl}

So Isabelle does this HIL-larious move when she's goofing off. She tips her hips under and sticks out her chin and thinks it's the funniest thing (it is!). Here she is doing her move while running loose without clothes and putting her sunglasses, inverted of course. :)

What a GOOF!
I especially love the the mullet flipping out from behind her sunglasses for added comedy.

{More pool time fun}

Monday, November 2, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Doha Expat Mums & Kids hosted an excellent Halloween bash for the babes, complete with fishing for spiders, a bouncy castle, ghost bowling and loads of chocolate. Isabelle was just shy of being able to enjoy the fact she was the cutest teeny bopper there ever was or the bouncy castle or the big crowds of scary people. She did win a Care Bear (did you know they still make those!?) for being so darn cute though.

Isabelle in her 1950's poodle skirt, ready to go the dance hop! Err, I mean the Halloween party

I was happy that the kimono I bought in Tokyo is finally used for something other than collecting dust

{And one short year ago on this day}