Thursday, October 29, 2009

It's The Most Wonderful Time of The Year!

Here in Doha, that is.

Fall has officially arrived in Doha and with it a host of fun activities.  People finally emerge out of their air-conditioned cocoons and life bursts forth with a whole host of things to do.  Temperatures have cooled off to a relatively mild range of the mid-to high 90's (like I said, relatively mild).

This weekend, the kids will be joining their youth group of an overnight retreat in the desert.  It sounds like a ton of fun - dune-bashing, swimming at the inland sea, a barbeque under the stars and sleeping in tents on the sand.  While they are off enjoying that fun, Hubby and I will watching some of the world's greatest female tennis players face-off.  The WTA season championship is held right here in Doha and we've got tickets for Friday night.  One of the nice things about living in Doha is that things like this are dirt cheap.  I paid about $30 for two really nice seats at the match.  It should be lots of fun.  I'm hoping to see at least one of the Williams sisters play, but it's a round robin, so I'm not quite sure who will be playing when we go.

Also going on this weekend, the inaugural Doha Tribeca Film Festival gets underway with celebrities like Robert DeNiro and Martin Scorcese coming into town.  We probably won't be catching any of the showings, but it's neat to think that such exciting events are happening right here in Doha, a place that many people have never even heard of! There's also a walk for breast cancer that will be happening this weekend and several holiday bazaars coming up in the next few weeks.

Both the Doha Community Orchestra and Doha Philharmonic are just starting their seasons, as is the Doha Players (our local theater troupe).  

Also exciting news in Doha is that our first IMAX movie theater just opened up!  (Not that we ever go to IMAX movies, but it's good to have if we decided too).

Last year, we left town in late October and returned in early December.  Then there was settling back in and Christmas and we didn't get to experience any of the fun of this time of year in Doha.  It's nice to be able to have so many great things to choose from!
Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Whew! It's Been Quite a Week!

This week has been filled with a big high and one big low.  I'll get the low out of the way first so that we can move on to happier things.

On Saturday evening, Daniel was telling me that he didn't feel well.  He said he'd been coughing (though I hadn't noticed anything) and that he just didn't right. I shrugged if off, but let him stay home the next day as he did feel slightly warm in the morning.  When I went home at lunch (thank goodness we moved so close to the school!!) he felt warmer, but still didn't seem to badly off.  By the time I came home from school, he was significantly warmer and miserable.  We thought it best to get him checked, so I dressed him (literally - he couldn't dress himself, poor baby!) and Hubby took him to the ER (he's become the official parent to accompany kids to the doctor since he can often communicate better with them than I here in Doha).   His fever was 104.6 when he arrived, but soon reached a high of 105.8!  He was given an injection of something designed to bring down the fever, which it did. He was diagnosed with the flu (swine or otherwise, they are testing so we'll never know) and given a raftload of drugs, including Tamiflu.  

Happily, he has not needed even one dose of fever-reducing medicine since that first injection.  He's felt much better ever since.  He did stay home from school the rest of the week though.  (They are off school today and tomorrow for Professional Development days).  I figured since he was still coughing he didn't need to be spreading that all around. I'm just happy that he's well and back to his old self.

On the upside of the week, we got.....drumroll, please...A DRYER!!!  A dryer. A dryer.  A dryer.  It's an amazing invention, you know.  The first load I did was a load of towels.  When you have been using scratchy, stiff towels for a year and a half, the feeling of softness of a load of towels just fresh from they dryer is amazing.  I just kept rubbing my hands all over them and giggling.  

Then I did jeans and they came out soft and warm and weren't able to stand up by themselves.  And they were done in an hour!!  I got all 8 loads of laundry (I'd been saving it all up for the big arrival!!) done in less than 24 hours. That would have taken me days and days to do before since I'd have to line dry everything and wait for it to dry so that I could use the dryer rack for the next load.  I was so excited and I'm so thrilled.

But, we are in Doha, and that means that there's always a little something that goes wrong.  The guys who delivered it weren't putting in a vent hose.  So I asked them about it and in their broken English they informed me that it only puts out a little heat, so it's not necessary.  

Excuse me??

But they could not be persuaded and claimed to not have any on them.  Finally I let them leave, figuring it's just easier to install it ourselves than deal with the people.  Since I was desperate to do laundry, I just shoved the machine over to the back door of the kitchen, opened up the door and vented it directly to the outside.  Ingenious, aren't I?!
Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Million Tiny Pieces (of Information, That Is)

Wow - it's done.  We moved.  

We moved fast.  We moved hard.  We moved until we were ready to drop and were left crying, in fetal position, on the crowded, dirty floor of our new home.  (Of course, that may have just been me.  Hubby is just slightly more in control of his emotions.)

And the house?  It's fabulous!  It's about half the size of our previous house, but it's so much better designed.  Here are some things I love about it:

The dishwasher is right next to the sink where it belongs, not across the room.  The bathtub is wide enough that I don't have to have my arms pinned to my sides when taking a nice hot bubble bath.  Oh, and the hot water heater must have some kind of control on it, because I haven't been burned once!!  Amazing!!   There's tons of cabinet space.  Their are closets.  Closets, people.  You never realize how much you appreciate something until you don't have it.

We are still working on getting everything in place, but once that's done, I'll post some pictures.  I'm excited to show it off, I just don't think you'd enjoy seeing the chaos that it is now.

Moving on, yesterday was a big, albeit unpleasant one, for my kids.  Braces went on!!  Emily just got hers on the top, bottom to come later.  Daniel only got them on his two front teeth for now, pending some necessary extractions.  But I'm amazed.  He has always had a huge gap between his two front teeth and in just a matter of hours, it was almost gone.  The doctor said it will be completely gone by Halloween.  How is that possible?!  He picked red (his favorite color) and Emily got green and orange, the closest she could get to the colors of University of Miami.  Believe it or not, I'm considering doing it as well, but just can't get over having braces in my 40's.  Any thoughts?

I bought my Thanksgiving turkey last night.  No guarantees I'll find them later, so figured I'd better grab one now.  Pumpkin pie filling, however, still eludes me.  I'm thinking I'll do pecan pie instead, but it just won't be the same.  Sigh...

Exciting news for Emily!  She has joined the forensics club here at school and tried out and made the travel team!!  She'll be traveling with the team to tournaments here in the region and competing against other international schools.  She's so excited!!  We are really proud of her and excited too, knowing that forensics is a great way to improve public speaking skills and make her into a more well-rounded person.

Daniel, too, will be getting to travel soon.  As part of the curriculum here at the American School of Doha, all middle schoolers participate in something called Week Without Walls.  Last year, the kids started school during that week, so Emily didn't get to travel, sadly. Daniel did take part, but 6th graders stay here in Doha and do service projects.  This year, he'll get to go to either the United Arab Emirates (Dubai/Abu Dhabi) or Oman in February.  Either one will be exciting.  They'll be doing adventure camps and other activities meant to stretch them and help them grow.  It's a great opportunity for him.

Well, that's our update from here.  It's been a busy week or two, but I'm hoping things will start slowing down now and we will get all settled in the house and in life in general!!  Thanks for hanging in there with me!!
Monday, October 12, 2009

Finally, Resolution!

So several weeks ago I mentioned that we had found a house we wanted to move to.  It was a perfect house for us for a number of reasons.

Ever since then we've been in a holding pattern.  Hubby's company, upon being given notice that we were moving, informed him that they expected us to fulfill the contract which THEY had signed even before we agreed to move into the house.  The THREE YEAR CONTRACT!!!!  This, of course, after they told Hubby when we moved in that he could take this house permanently and move out when he found something we liked better.  Now, remember that he took this house before I even arrived in Doha, so I had no say in the matter.

It seems that with the slowdown of the world economy, Hubby's company is also feeling the squeeze and was determined that no properties they rented would sit empty.  So we have been going back and forth with them in regards to whether or not we would be allowed to leave the house.  Finally, today, we got final permission to leave and move into the house of our choice.  Hooray!!

I'm so excited.  I really think this is going to be an excellent move for us and here's why:

1) We will be thisclose to the school.   Two minutes.  I timed it tonight.  That means I can drop off the kids quickly during our weekly half-days, we could walk to school once it cools off, if one kid has an after-school activity I won't have to sit there and wait for an hour, but can easily run home and back when they are done.

2) We will be surrounded by school staff.  This means loads of kids, mostly American or Canadian.  It will be really nice for me too, to have neighbors who are friendly.  Not like the man currently to our right, whom I've met a total of three times, each one to complain about something that wasn't even our fault.  I don't know everyone in the neighborhood, but I know a lot of them and I think it will be great.

3) We'll be more centrally located for things like carpools and such.  Where we are now, there's only one family from our church anywhere even close to us.  In our new home, we will be right smack dab in the middle of all the carpooling families so the kids can more easily be part of the "group."

4) The house won't require as much upkeep.  I think I mentioned that our current house is big.  About 4000 sq. ft, with 5 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, two kitchens (one inside, one outside), a loft, dining room, and both a family room and a living room. The new house is 3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, with just one roomy kitchen (with place for a dishwasher right next to the sink, instead of across the room like here!), and a large living room.  I'm not sure how I'm going to fit everything in, but it will be a relief not to have to spend all of our free time cleaning.

So we are hoping to be able to start moving our things into the house over the weekend and be fully moved in by the end of the month.  It's going to be a busy few days, since we are hiring movers to move just the big furniture and will have to do the rest of it bit by bit in my car.  But I'm excited and can't wait!
Friday, October 2, 2009

Thank Goodness THAT is Over!!

Well, we survived our week of virtual school.  Just barely.

(In case you are behind the times, the government of Qatar closed ALL schools in the country last week due to H1N1.)

The first day or two was crazy.  Teachers and students were both trying to figure it out - how to communicate solely through websites and email, how much work is too much, how to make it work when you have more kids than computers.  It was nuts.  But as the week went on, everybody learned and adapted.  Now, with regards to my kids specifically, Emily definitely handled it better than Daniel.  She got her work done every day and even managed to have the most active week ever socially.  She was out every night except Sunday!

But then there's Daniel. He struggled with understanding exactly what was expected of him.  So did I, truth be told.  One of my main complaints is that each teacher did things a different way.  You had to look everywhere to make sure you weren't missing things. I've just sat down and made a list of all he's got to do by the time school resumes on Sunday (yes, Sunday - don't forget in Arab countries school goes Sunday-Thursday) and it's quite a bit.  He'll be a busy boy tomorrow!

But in talking with a friend of mine about how the week went the other day, she pointed out that, while the kids may not have gotten as much done academically as they would have normally, they learned other valuable skills.  They learned to be more self-reliant.  They learned to be bold enough to speak up when you don't understand and seek out the teacher's help. They learned to help each other out (without cheating and giving each other the answers!!).  They learned flexibility and self-discipline.

It wasn't a week I'd want to repeat again and I still don't feel it was necessary.  I think the government completely over-reacted, as if swine flu would disappear within a week.  But it's good to know that in the event of an actual emergency, their education would be continued with minimal disruption.


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