In January, we made the very difficult decision to end our homeschooling journey and enroll our two amazing kids in school here in Doha. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but we felt it was the Lord's leading. Two months later, it was my turn to leave home and enter the workforce. A job opened up for me in the high school office of the kids' school. It has been a perfect way for me to keep in touch with my children's lives, get to know their friends in some small way, earn some extra money and expand my social life somewhat.
Over the summer, we made the long, long journey through Saudi Arabia to visit Hubby's family in Jordan. It was a trip which none of us were looking forward to following last year's horrible experience when our kids and their cousins didn't get along and made everyone miserable. After 3 days of travel, wearing the traditional black abayas and head coverings all the way, we pulled into Amman, only to be sideswiped 5 minutes after entering the town. Not an auspicious start. However, we were happily surprised when everyone got along, was happy and enjoyed their time together.
Sadly, just weeks after we came home, we got the call that no one ever wants to get. Hubby's father passed away at the age of 91. He was a deeply loved man, a godly man. The knowledge that he was already in Heaven with the God whom he loved so offered comfort, but he remains missed every day. Knowing that the next time we go, we won't be seeing his smiling face, or hearing his words of wisdom, or feeling his strong hugs makes it almost impossible for me to think what it will be like without him. There will be such a void.
And this fall we moved to a new home. Our new home is perfect for us. It's a five minute walk to school, closer to friends, allows us to use the amenities at the school like the weight room, track, basketball courts, and pool, and is easier for us to maintain.
And so, again, it's been a year full of change. In fact, I wonder if we will ever again have a year that seems "normal." This life we have chosen certainly has its ups and downs. It's good to know that as we enter a new year next week, we have the promise that God will be with us. That He is always with us - through the good and the bad. The highs are made much sweeter by His presence, and the lows are softened by His comfort.
Back during our Thanksgiving/Eid break, I promised to have pictures of our new house up by the end of the week.
Well, that didn't happen. I'm lazy. Sorry. (I think subconsciously I was waiting for Christmas decorations to be up. Everything looks better with Christmas decorations, doesn't it?).
But, finally, here they are. Please be gracious and remember that we are still working on the place. We haven't painted and we still need to find some artwork to grace the walls. But I'm happy with how it is so far.
They are in pretty random order, but here goes!
Let's start with the important thing.
Finally I can take a nice, deep, luxurious bubble bath. At the old house, I had an awful tub. It was too short, too shallow and too narrow. Trying to take a bath in it was like trying to take a bath in one of those banana split dishes. This one is fabulous!!
This is a view from our dining room to the living room. I love how our front door is all glass and let's in tons of light. Even though this picture is really dark. You'll just have to trust me on this one.
This is just inside the front door looking towards the dining room.
See what I mean about needing artwork on the walls? The whole wall along the right, which you don't see is plain, plain, plain. Blah!
This is the other half of the living room. Since we went from having a living room, family room AND loft in the other house to just having a living room in this house, it required a little creativity in trying to fit in the furniture. So this couch kind of divides the room in half - a tv watching area, and behind it, a sitting area for reading or visiting.
This is from the dining room into the bedroom area. That's our door to the right of the piano. Unfortunately, you won't be seeing the bedrooms. Well, your eyes probably consider themselves fortunate. It's not pretty back there.
And here's the living room from the other angle. Don't ya just love my fake poinsettias there in the bucket? I do!!
This is our guest bath. I don't know why I thought you might want to see that. Sorry.
Here's my kitchen. I love it, but it just drives me a little crazy that the table and cabinets don't match.
And, here it is. The one item that is most beloved and appreciated in this house, besides my husband.
Here's the front of the house. Well, there's a wall around the house, but here's the front from inside the wall. Doesn't that make you feel special? Like you got to go inside and get a secret scoop??
And here's our little yard'ish area. (I just can't bring myself to call it a yard.) The pampas grass was already there, but almost dead when we moved in. We've resuscitated it, made the rock border, added the bougainvillea in the center and put in hibiscus along the wall. Hopefully it will all fill in and just be gorgeous someday.
And that's it. Home, sweet home. I cannot tell you how our quality of life has improved since we moved here. Walking to work/school in the mornings. Seeing friends in the neighborhood (remember the bulk of houses in our neighborhood are leased by the school for faculty). Not being looked at like we have three heads. Being part of carpooling since we aren't on the "wrong" side of town. It's been great.
So, the last couple of weeks before school let out for the week-long Eid break were a nightmare due to swine flu. About 10 percent of the kids were absent and I got to be the lucky one who had to compile the lists of who was out, why they were out, if they had any siblings in the elementary or middle school, etc. It consumed half my day!
Now, the government of Qatar has opted to force all schools to remain closed for ANOTHER WEEK!!! Of course, just the kids get to stay home. Staff and faculty have to report to work. Yuck.
And yet, I'm reminded by this little ditty not to place blame on our friends, The Pigs.
And yet, I'm a person who needs solitude. Sometimes I just NEED to be alone. It recharges my batteries. Not that I'm anti-social or anything. I am actually very friendly, I swear!! It's just that I get overwhelmed when there is always someone there. Even if it's just someone in the same room, but not interacting with me, it drains me.
I guess I just feel freer when I'm alone. Free to just sit there and stare out the window. Free to talk to myself (which I do when I'm trying to work things out in my head). Free to read in peace and quiet. Free to do whatever I want without someone judging me or interrupting me.
I had one of those days today. I started work the other day and today was a particularly annoying day. Nothing huge, just annoying. So I got in the car, drove to the store, picked up a magazine and just pulled over on the side of the road and read. All alone.
Back in Miami, I had a multitude of options when I wanted to be alone. I would often go to the library and find a corner to retreat to. Other times, I'd go to the local park and read under a tree. But here in Doha, I don't really have many options. There are no libraries. Parks, when it's cool enough to be outside, are packed unbelievably full. So I have to be creative.
Being alone is different from being lonely. I think the ability to be comfortable with yourself when you are all alone is a mark of maturity. If you haven't tried it lately, give it a shot and see how it improves your mood.
Here's me by the banks of the Jordan River.
And here's Emily at the Jordan River as well. Can you tell how stinkin' hot it was? About a billion and three degrees or so! Still it was an amazing experience.
Here's a sign with the explanation of why they believe this is the true baptism site of Jesus. I'm hoping if you click on it you will be able to read it.
This is where they say the baptism site is. As I think I mentioned, it's now away from the Jordan River, which has changed course over time, but you can still see the remains of the ancient churches which were built to commemorate the site.
Here are Emily and Daniel at Mount Nebo, the place where Moses looked out over the Promised Land.
This staff with a serpent wrapped around it commemorates this spot where Moses saw the Promised Land. You can't tell from the photo, but the entire sculpture is made up of small votive candle holders and, according to my father-in-law, you used to be able to see the sculpture lit up from the candles all the way from Jerusalem. Air quality has diminished now to the point that it isn't possible, but it's neat to think about.
Here's Daniel at the Roman Amphitheater in downtown Amman.
Driving through Saudi Arabia (yes, it looked that barren ALL the way!!) we passed a small pick-up truck carrying some unusual cargo - a camel!!That's it for now. I'll try to post some more pictures after we get home. We head out tomorrow. Even though we are all going to miss Amman and our family here, I think we are all ready to get home to our own place and normal life. We'll drive into Doha on Thursday night and I'll start work again (grrrr...) on Sunday so I'll have a couple of days to unpack and restock the house before getting back into the grind.
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