Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Whoo-Hoo!!!

I'm so happy about the way that the living room turned out!

I did end up second-guessing myself and going back and getting another paint color. But it didn't seem right either, so at the last minute, decided to go ahead and paint the first color. I'm so glad I did. It came out beautifully!! It's kind of a caramel color, and it looks so lush and rich. I just love it.

Hubby and I took some time to rearrange the room as well - moving artwork, furniture and plants around. We also put up some of that vinyl lettering you can buy with the pre-cut letters in different sayings. While I was in the States I picked up one that says, "Live. Laugh. Love." It's looks so nice up against the rich color. Now it looks like a pulled together room rather than just a place we just moved into and haven't really worked on. I'm so happy!

Pictures will follow when I figure out how to get them out of the camera!! (Hubby's still home, so hopefully later today!)
Thursday, September 9, 2010

I'm Back with a Quick Update

Moving to another blog site seemed to be the right thing at the time, but it just never felt like "home." So here I am, back at my bloggy home. I'm not making any promises about the frequency that I'll be posting, or that my posts will instantly revert to dispensing of wisdom and tons of homemaking advice. Life is still the same with me over here - still working, still struggling to make it all work, but here I am.

Here's a quick run-down of what's going on in my life to get you all caught up:

1) Those of you who followed my workplace drama during my early days of working might be relieved to know that it's really turned out very well. Over the summer I received a promotion which was designed by my new boss to really let me know how valuable he considers me. It's really helped me be happier with being there.

2) It's September 9 and it's still 115 degrees outside during the day. Ugh!

3) Emily seems to have really blossomed and settled in here finally. This is a huge answer to prayer.

4) We had an excellent vacation in the US over the summer. 4 weeks in Tucson, 2 weeks in Miami. A great time of re-connecting with friends and family, not to mention experiencing all the little things that make American "home."

5) Today is the last day of Ramadan. This month long period of fasting and reflection for Muslims has quite an impact on the lives on non-Muslims living here as well. Hubby has been lucky enough to finish work each day at 12:30, the kids finished school at 2:30. Everything runs on different times to accommodate the day-time fasting fatigue which most Muslims struggle with.

6) However, tomorrow is the first day of Eid. This comes with a week off school for the kids and I (actually we've been off since Wednesday), and four days off for Hubby. Restaurants will resume regular hours, as will stores, I can drink a bottle of water in the car, and I won't have to hide my fruit or glasses of water at my desk.

7) During this week off, we are going to be painting the living room. Hubby painted our dining room a gorgeous red while the kids and I were back in the U.S. over the summer, and we painted the kids' rooms the weekend after we got back and now it's time for the living room. I'm a little nervous about the color I've gotten to be honest. I couldn't find the paint chip I had selected when it was time to buy, so I tried to pick the same one there, but now that it's home and the paint chip has been found, it's quite different from what I chose. I'm debating whether I should just try it out or waste the paint (which is pricier than it is in the States) and go back and get what I really want.

8) Did I mention there are TWO Eids? Yes, that's right, there's an Eid holiday now and another one in 40 days. So in November, we are off for our first big family vacation (to somewhere other than visiting family) to. . . . . . ROME!!!! Yep, that's right - we are going to the Eternal City. I've rented us a great 2 bedroom apartment smack dab in the middle of the historical center of Rome, just blocks from both the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. The Coliseum will be within walking distance. I was in Rome a long time ago with a friend and I'm so looking forward to going back!!

9) And in December we get three weeks off for our winter break (Heaven forbid we call it Christmas break!!), we are planning on driving to Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Yes, this means we will be once again driving through Saudi Arabia, but this time it will only be a matter of hours rather than days. We'll be staying with Hubby's sister who lives in Abu Dhabi, but the really exciting part is going to Dubai. We can't wait to try the indoor ski slope!!

10) My current reading list is: Crazy Love, by Francis Chan; The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold; Just Take My Heart, by Mary Higgins Clark; and a quick re-read of Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women, by Geraldine Brooks (for the book club I'm joining this fall). Quite a variety!

So that's it. Life is good right now. It's good to be back.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Moving Again!

No, we aren't leaving Doha.  

(Shucks!)

I've just decided that it's time for me to leave The Simple Life at Home behind.  It's just not what I had originally envisioned anymore and I don't know how to make sure that I'm not disappointing people who come here looking for something that I can no longer offer here.  

But if you are interested in just little ol' me and my life here in Qatar, feel free to join me at my new home, Middle East Mama.  It will be more personal, more about my life now.  I still hope to offer the occasional bit of wisdom, delicious recipe and more, but I'm not going to feel obligated to.  And that will make all the difference.  I'm hoping that this move helps get me back to loving blogging again, rather than feeling guilty if I don't post often enough or am able to dispense wisdom from on high.

I'd love to see you there!!!
Sunday, April 4, 2010

Have a Blessed Easter

Happy Easter, everyone!!  I pray that you spend today with friends and family, being ever mindful of the resurrection of Jesus.  His death on the cross and his resurrection, conquering sin and death, allow us to have true fellowship with God.  Here is a beautiful song celebrating the resurrection by one of the all-time great Christian artists, Keith Green.

(P.S.  I'm taking today as one of my "grace days" in the 90 days through the Bible.  There are two built into the plan and with the holiday and celebrating Hubby's birthday, today seems to be a good day to use one. Be back tomorrow!)


Monday, March 29, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - March 29


Back again for another edition of Menu Plan Monday!  Two weeks in a row - wow!  I'm on a roll!

We are on Spring Break here this week.  Emily is off in Jordan on an outreach trip with our youth group, Hubby is busy working and Daniel and I are hanging at home relaxing a bit.  I've been on an organizing spree, and boy, can our home use that!  Ever since we moved in to this house in late October, I've just never really found a "home" for lots of things.  Consequently we have been living in chaos and it's contributed a lot to the stress level.  I'm so much more relaxed already and I'm only a few days into getting it all done.  I can't wait until I get everything done and settled.  

This week we are still trying to be frugal and "shopping from home."  Tostadas are a great bargain dish, as are most meatless dishes, and easy to boot.  The Potato Lover's Salad is also very inexpensive to make and it's one of Hubby's and my favorites, full of flavor and delish.  I found a great deal on shrimp this week, inspiring me to make the shrimp scampi. The stuffed squash dish needs just 1/2 lb. of ground beef, rice, squash (very inexpensive here) and a few tomatoes. Our big splurge will be dinner out on Easter, but frugality should also include a splurge once in a while, or everyone becomes miserable, right?

Monday - Tostada bar

Tuesday - Baked shrimp scampi over fettucini, caesar salad

Wednesday - Koosa Mahshi (stuffed squash)


Friday -  Pizza (for lunch - don't forget Friday is our day off here); sandwiches for dinner (then off to the airport to pick up Emily!!)

Saturday - Rosemary and lime chicken (one of Emily's favorites to welcome her home), basmati rice and steamed vegetables

Sunday - We'll be going out out eat to celebrate Easter this year.  Hams are not available here in Qatar, turkeys by themselves cost as much as a meal out anyways, and we will be celebrating two birthdays in our family which fall this week (not mine - yet).  

And now, I'm off to organize my entertainment center cabinets.  Bliss!!!

Happy Monday!

(For more menu ideas, be sure to visit The Organizing Junkie.)
Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Well, I've Been Surprised Again!

You know, after two years of being in the Gulf, I thought I'd already had all the new, funny experiences I was going to have.  I've fallen down stairs only to be stared at by passers-by, I've had workmen show up at my house as early as 6 am and as late as 10:30 pm without an appointment, I've seen camels riding by in pick-up trucks, I've learned to hoard precious and rare ingredients like vanilla pudding, learned to deal with bureaucratic incompetence at the doctor's office, and much, much more.  I thought I'd seen it all and that nothing could surprise me anymore.

I was wrong.

I should know in Doha there is a never-ending supply of things to surprise you.  Though I don't even bat an eye anymore when a car come barreling towards me, heading the wrong way down a one way street, and the sight of men greeting each other by rubbing their noses together barely gets a giggle anymore, yesterday I something new happened that caught me totally off guard.

I had run up to the little supermarket nearby.  Now, when I say supermarket, think of a tiny little stall of a storefront where the aisles are about 2 feet wide and so jam-packed you have to navigate carefully to avoid knocking everything to the ground.  All I needed was a can of corn.  I was roasting a couple of chickens (chickens come small here, so two are always needed) and I was just craving mashed potatoes and gravy.  And, to me, mashed potatoes MUST always be accompanied by corn. It's the law, which I'm sure I could prove if I spent enough time looking through the books.

So I find my can of corn, make my way up to the little man at the front.  There's someone ahead of me so he indicates for me to put the can on the cooler of ice cream in front of him while I wait.  I do and he tells me it's 5.50 Qatari riyals.   Because coins are very rare here (which is why you will often get your change in candy!), I handed him six riyals.  He must not have had change either because he looked in his drawer (yes, drawer, not cash register) and gave me back the 1, keeping the 5.  Remembering that I had one 50 cent piece that I had been hoarding, I got it out of my wallet and tried to hand it to him.

He instantly started gesturing at me, pointing at the cooler again.  When I just looked at him in confusion, he finally started yelling, "Down!  Down!  Put it down!"  Startled, I put the coin down on the cooler, from where he picked it up and put it in the drawer.

He didn't want to take the chance that he might accidentally touch me while I handed him the coin.  

Shocked I walked to my car and just couldn't get over this.  I don't know why it is bothering me so much.  I know that Hassidic Jews often do the same thing and that it's a sign of respect to them.  But trust me - this was not a sign of respect.  The last word you could use for how most Muslim men view women, particularly Western women, is respect.  It's more a fear of contamination.  Seriously.  

So, once again, Doha managed to pull it off again.  Shocking me has become more and more difficult the longer I live here, but hat's off to you, little grocery-store man.  You did it!
Monday, March 22, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - March 22


Gosh, it's been ages since I've been able to participate in Menu Plan Monday.  The whole time difference thing totally throws me off.  By the time I get online over here on my side of the world, y'all have gotten posted so quickly that I'd be #973, so it just kind of seemed silly.  LOL!  But now that it's going up at a new time (6 am PST, 4 pm my time) there's a slight chance I might be able to crack the top 200!! ;)

This week I am doing a frugal version of menu-planning.  For one thing we are pretty tight on finances from now until the end of the school year what with paying off school fees, saving for vacation and such, so it's good to just tighten the belt and make do on what we can.  Also, since the kids and I will be vacating the house for 6 weeks while we are in the States for the summer and Hubby will probably eat out a majority of that time, I figured it's a good idea to begin "shopping at home" as much as I can, using up what I already have. 

Here's my menu plan for this week:

  • Monday - Homemade pizza using this fabulous pizza crust recipe.  The kids' pizza will be cheese and pepperoni, but Hubby and I will enjoy pizza Margherita, fresh sliced tomatoes, fresh basil and cheese (no sauce).  Yummy!!
  • Tuesday - Roasted chicken in the crockpot (I recently discovered this great tip - ball up tin foil at the bottom of the crockpot and place the chicken(s) on top of it.  No more slimy chicken!
  • Wednesday - Lentils and rice with a lemon-dressed salad - the ultimate frugal meal!
  • Thursday - Ribs with baked potatoes and steamed veggies.  I'm so excited about this meal!!!  A friend of mine, whose husband is stationed at the US airbase nearby, has kindly given us this rack of (shhhhhh!!!!) pork ribs!!  I'm dancing gleefully around the computer right now just thinking about it.  (Well, not really, but in my imagination I am!)
  • Friday - Tuna salad sandwiches (hitting the bottom of the barrel, here, right?!)
  • Saturday - Mezze - homemade hummous (recipe below), pickles, olives, cheeses, crudites, and pita bread
  • Sunday - Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup

Hummus seems to be gaining in popularity these days in the U.S.  It's healthy and a great dip for breads, carrots and other veggies.  But when I see those small little tubs of it selling for close to $4 in the deli section, I want to cry.  It's SOOOO easy and so cheap to make, it should be a crime to charge that much for it.  Here's how I make it at home in less than 5 minutes:

Hummous
1 can chick peas (liquid reserved)
3 Tbsp. tahini (kind of like a sesame seed peanut butter)
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 cloves garlic
salt to taste

Put all ingredients and about 1/3 of the liquid from the chick peas into a blender.  Blend, adding more liquid as necessary, until the mixture is smooth and is the consistency of a thick dip.  Put onto a plate and drizzle a swirl of olive oil onto it and sprinkle on a little parsley and paprika for an authentic look.  That's it!  You've just made hummous!

Be sure to visit Orgjunkie.com for more great menu plan ideas!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The First Step

Yesterday I was trying to think back to how things got so far off track.  How did we go from being a happy, Christian, loving family to this creation I don't even recognize?  The constant arguing, the sniping at each other, the antagonism - I look around and am heartbroken.

The cause could be any number of things.  We have gone through major changes in our lives over the last two years.  Moving overseas has created a lot of turmoil and even some resentment.  Putting the kids into school for the first time has exposed them to a whole world from which we had always tried to shield them.  My return to full-time work has left our home without a full-time "manager" and has left things in low-level constant chaos.  Hormones are raging through my soon-to-be 15 and 13 year olds, creating mood swings which take us all by surprise.

The first step in rectifying all this mess?  Resume our daily time of Bible reading and prayer.  When we homeschooled, it was always the way we started off our day.  But lately we're all in such a hurry in the mornings - packing backpacks, preparing lunches, getting out the door on time - that our daily time with God and His word has fallen by the wayside, I'm ashamed to admit.  I feel like we have lost our focus as a family and this is where our focus should be - on God.

It might not solve all our problems overnight, but it is the firs step in the right direction.

"Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth."
Deuteronomy 11: 18-21
Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Caps for Sale


I've decided that I wear too many caps.  (Not actual hats, of course.  I have an unusually large head and hats don't generally fit on it.)  What I'm referring to is the number of roles I play.  It's nothing new really, this multiple hat-wearing.  As any mother knows, we all wear enough hats to fill Imelda Marcos' shoe closet - wife, mother, cook, housekeeper, nursemaid, teacher, chauffeur...the list could go on and on.

Adding in full- time employee has seemingly pushed me right over the edge.  I've been working for one year now.  It's been a hard year, full of adjustments and letting go of expectations.  I've had to learn to give myself permission to not feel guilty for being the perfect Suzy Homemaker that I always dreamed of being.  To be honest, home-cooked meals only happen about 2/3 of the time - our local Arabic restaurant's number is stored in my memory and I can dial it in my sleep.  Dominos and KFC are getting quite bit more of our business than ever before, as well.

Housekeeping standards haven't been exactly up to snuff either.  Mind you, I was never the best housekeeper in the world to start with.  (Mother - stop laughing!)  But in the last few years I had really gotten on track by implementing routines and was so proud of myself for really pulling the house into shape.  Now I'm happy with myself if I get the dinner dishes done.  By the time I get home, prepare dinner, help with homework and do a very basic tidying up, I'm D-O-N-E.  

Having the weekend be reversed doesn't help either.  Since weekends here are Friday-Saturday, and church meets on Fridays because many people, Hubby included, work on Saturdays (yes, he works a 6-day week!!  UGH!), that means that the weekend starts off with the day of rest/church.  Somehow that has completely thrown me.  I absolutely don't want to do anything on Friday after church, but then that lethargy carries over onto Saturdays.  I always grew up that the first day of the weekend you did your housekeeping, gardening, errands and then the next day you rested.  I just can't seem to get the hang of it being swapped.  It just seems...wrong.

So much as I would like to, I can't really sell any of my hats.  I just have to find a way to wear them with more panache.  One issue is the overwhelming fatigue I've been dealing with.  The last few nights I've been in bed by 8:30 - totally out of character for me.  I've been trying to get more exercise, attending Zumba classes and hitting the gym a few nights a week, but that just seems to make me even more tired.  I'm thinking that maybe some vitamins or something, but I don't know what.  Any advice?

I'm thinking that I strongly need to get back to using routines - even if they are vastly different from the previous ones I had in place.  Less ambition, more accomplishment.  I think I've just kind of given up - since I can't get as much done as I really want to, why bother.  All my wonderful meal plans have fallen by the wayside as well.  :(

I think I'm at the point now where a year is long enough to get into the flow of things.  It's time to stop making excuses and start making things happen.  We have spring break coming up next week, so I guess I should use that time to sit down and figure out routines and plans that realistically work for me in my current situation, so be looking for some "Routines for the Working Woman" in the next couple of weeks.  

That gives me one week to continue my sluggish ways.  I'd better go buy some Cheetos and soda and clear a space on the couch!!
Monday, March 15, 2010

In the Desert

I've gone back to my desert-themed layout here on the blog.  As temperatures rise and the sun becomes more intense, it just seemed like the right 'feel' for the postings.  

As I look at the picture, I'm struck by how diverse Qatar is.  To be sure you do indeed see things like this camel (though usually only at the markets or in the back of a pickup or out in the wild) and the man in the robe (known locally as a thobe).  But right alongside those sights, you'll see skyscrapers and Lamborghini's.  

Qatar is one of the most multi-national places I've ever been.  One of the things I enjoyed about living in Miami is how diverse it was - Cubans, Haitians, South Americans, Europeans and native-born Americans.  Miami has nothing on this place.   Not only do you have the local Qataris (who make up only 20% of the population), but you have Indians, Filipinos, South Africans, Brits, Canadians, Nepalis, and just about every other place you can imagine.  The school my children attend has students from 70 different countries.  

While we are very strong in our Christian beliefs, I am thrilled that my children are friends with people of other faiths and cultures.  I think their entire world view is being shaped by the fact that they are getting to know real people from all over the world, not just radicals who get on the evening news.  It's very easy to just paint everyone in a group with a broad brush and not get the whole picture.  

Living here in Doha it's very easy to take out your frustrations on a certain group of people - these people are rude, these people are the worst drivers, you name it.  But then you meet someone from that group and realize that it's just people.  That there are rude people where you are from too.  That there are bad drivers in your hometown.  It may be more prevalent here because there is such a mix of cultures where people have come from that it's like a melting pot of expectation and backgrounds, but the truth is there is good and bad in all of our cultures.

I'm glad that my kids are getting to know that now instead of when they are my age.  
Sunday, March 14, 2010

Bugs and Heat

Now in Miami, this would be a whole different post.  Mosquitos there grow to the size of rodeo-type bucking broncos.  And they thrive in the summer heat of Miami, congregating by the thousands at your front door, ready to pounce on you the second you crack the door open.

The kind of bug I'm talking about today, however, is the insidious computerus virusium.  Foolishly, Hubby and I allowed our security software to expire on our home computers and we have been hacked.  Big time.  To the point where the government-run internet provider has blacklisted our IP address and we can't use the internet at home.  Every time we turn on the computer, thousands of warnings pop up - key loggers, email worms, trojan viruses, you name it - I've got it.  Then I was even too scared to attempt to renew our software license because they'd have access to our credit card info.  So we bought new security software, but the hackers are too smart and the system won't allow us to load it. And so, the only solution?  

Wiping out the hard drive and starting clean.

Do you hear my whimper coming out through the speakers of you computer?  Wiping out everything - all the programs, all the documents, all the pictures (though thankfully Hubby had uploaded many of the most special ones to Facebook).  The guys at the computer shop were going to see what could be saved, but we are preparing for the worst.  Sigh...why do people come up with stuff like this?  What kind of people are they?!  (Evil, I tell you! They are just plain evil!)

Ok, now that that little rant is over, let me just update you on what it's like in Qatar at the moment.  Yesterday I had to run the kids over to the school for homework purposes (multiple times!!! grrrr...) since we couldn't use the internet at home.  Once, at about 1 pm, I happened to glance at the thermometer in my rear-view mirror as I got in the car.  It read (drumroll, please!!) 105 degrees.

Now, it dropped pretty rapidly down to a near-chilly 95 degrees.  What on earth am I complaining about?  I mean, here it is mid-March and it's already 95 degrees.  Can you imagine what it will be like around here when summer really arrives?
Friday, March 12, 2010

95 Days

We're finally down into the double-digits!!  Only 95 days until we get to fly back to the US for the summer!  I bought our tickets last night and it seems so close I can taste it.

(That sounded dumb.  What exactly does the US taste like anyways??)

Well, let me tell you what the US tastes like.  Here's a list of all the places my kids and I have been dreaming of and that are on our "must visit" list.

1. Wendy's - Oh, how I have missed you, Frosty!
2. Taco Bell - Yo quiero Taco Bell!
3. P.F. Chang's - Ok, that's just me, not the kids, but, mmm...Mongolian Beef and Chicken Lettuce Wraps
4. Sweet Tomatoes - Best salad bar restaurant - yummy!
5. Panera Bread - need I say more?
6. Cracker Barrel - Okay, honestly, it's more about the shopping than the food.  :)
7. KFC - Yes, we have it here, but they don't offer mashed potatoes and I'm ALL about KFC's mashed potatoes!
8. Wienerschnitzel - Chili dogs, chili dogs and more chili dogs.  A smile just crept onto my face.

I'm thinking that over the course of the next 95 days there will be more lists of what we can't wait for in store here at ye olde blog.  Sorry in advance - we are just a wee bit excited over here!!
Friday, March 5, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish For

My mother would tell you that I was something of an impatient child.  If I didn't get my way, I might even be prone to going outside into the street and stomping my feet and screaming.  Personally I don't remember that, but she claims it's true.

This propensity to lose my temper easily has always been a source of frustration for me.  For as long as I can remember I've prayed that God would give me patience.  Well, we all know that patience isn't just given, but that it's instead developed through situations which God allows into our lives to grow us.  

And I just want to let you know that if you are praying for patience, I'll be happy to be your Doha tour guide when God sends you here, because this is the ultimate training ground for people with a shortage of patience.

It's not only that you will soon not even care about the people who are going the wrong way down the street to skip to the head of the long line of cars waiting at the stop sign.  But you'll also find yourself barely batting an eye at the people in the grocery store who blithely stand in your way and don't even bother to move when they notice you are waiting to pass but continue to peruse the 50 different varieties of canned corn on the shelf.  

But the ultimate game of patience for me seems to be what I've come to think of as The Ingredient Game.  As I've mentioned before, keeping store shelves consistently stocked with a regular line up of products seems to be a problem here.  For the life of me I can't understand why since this is the richest country in the world, but such is life.  

This means that it's like a game to try and made something special.  You have to carefully collect the different ingredients over time and wait for that magic moment when you find the last missing piece.  For Valentine's Day the stars all aligned just in time to make one of Hubby's favorite desserts - Oreo Pudding Pie.  Pudding mixes are extremely hard to come by here for whatever reason, particularly chocolate.  For months I had been hoarding the chocolate Oreo Keebler pie crust and when I found the chocolate pudding in early February I knew it was a sign that I was meant to make this dessert as a sign of my love and effort for Hubby.  He loved it.

And now I've moved on to my next challenge:  collecting the ingredients for Hawaiian Wedding Cake.  I've had the crushed pineapple for several months, the instant vanilla pudding mix I found at the same time I found the chocolate pudding and last week found yellow cake mix.  Now all I'm lacking is Cool Whip.  I've gone from one grocery store to another trying to find it, all with no luck.  It's not normally so hard to find, but that's life in Doha.  You might lose access to anything at any time.  And so I wait (yes, patiently) for that little tub of creamy goodness to appear once more on the store shelves.  

And then I'll start collecting all over again.
Saturday, February 20, 2010

My New 101 in 1001 List

(I just updated this post I wrote in April of 2009 and realized, after nearly a year, that I had never published it!!! Yikes - bad blogger!!)

-----------

Well, having completed about half of my previous list, I was very motivated to make a new list and try to accomplish much more of it. I've been working on it sporadically for the last month or so and finally finished it this morning.

I'm setting my start date as tomorrow, which gives me a target date of January 5, 2012. The thing I like about having 1001 days to complete the list is that it gives you approximately 2 3/4 years, so if it's something seasonal, you have more than one shot to do it. I'm going to be putting a countdown clock on my sidebar to keep me motivated.

And now, without further ado, The List:

1. Read through the Bible start to finish
2. Memorize Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians
3. Watch sunrise on the corniche
4. Do Advent wreath and readings
5. Sabbath dinners
6. Go a week without saying something negative about anyone
7. Begin praying with Ibrahim
8. Pray for Ibrahim daily
9. Read & complete all Fascinating Woman assignments
10. Do character study with Emily
11. Teach Emily to cook 14 meals well
12. Paint first floor rooms
13. Do the Grand Plan
14. Save QR 5000 for an emergency plan
15. Pay off debt
16. Learn Arabic through Rosetta Stone
17. Read a six classic books each year
18. Visit Doha’s other museums
19. Learn to bake homemade bread
20. Make porch more welcoming
21. Get my BMI down to at least 24.9
22. Eliminate soda
23. Stop eating at night
24. Take vitamins and calcium daily
25. Floss daily for a month
26. Go to bed by 10:30 on most nights
27. Get a complete physical (with bloodwork) and mammogram
28. Take better care of my skin
29. 45 minutes of cardio, 4x a week
30. See an endocrinologist
31. Christmas letter (via email)
32. Take the family to visit a historical site
33. Take the kids to the Dead Sea
34. Do a 24 hour fast once a month
35. Get braces
36. Stop interrupting people
37. Visit Biosphere 2
38. Figure out how to play Settlers of Cataan
39. Attend symphony
40. Go dune bashing
41. Visit the Inland Sea
42. Plant flowers in flower bed
43. Try to learn some type of needlework
44. Start keeping track of my grocery budget
45. Refine menu plan to work with new schedule
46. Host a Christmas cookie swap
47. Identify 25 things I like about myself
48. Go to Doha Open tennis tournament
49. Have a date with Hubby at least once a month
50. Join a book club
51. Set up laundry room as a storage room for household backups
52. Get grill propane tank replaced and refitted
53. Volunteer at QAWS (animal rescue shelter here in Doha)
54. Start carrying a makeup bag with me for mid-day touch ups
55. Go to the Doha Debates
56. Go to the theater
57. Get the kids to an orthodontist
58. Decorate seasonally
59. Fight the frump
60. Use body lotion every day for a month
61. Entertain other couples once a quarter
62. Spend time at the gym’s sauna and steamroom
63. Go to the movies at Royal Plaza
64. No tv for one month at least once a year
65. No tv for a whole day at least once a week
66. Get a new cleaning plan in place
67. Follow said cleaning plan for 30 days straight
68. Walk the entire corniche
69. Read Blue Like Jazz
70. Re-read Hinds Feet on High Places
71. Go through The Power of a Praying Wife
72. Learn to “sprout”
73. Clean out email folders
74. Learn how to do blog design myself
75. Create a list of 52 “life skill” to teach to the kids and teach them
76. Finish touring Islamic Art Museum
77. Convince Hubby to install Wi-fi here at home
78. Use reusable bags for grocery shopping
79. Phase paper towels and napkins out of the home
80. Check for new podcasts once a week
81. Get a clothes dryer
82. Get a free-standing basketball hoop
83. Finish Christmas shopping at least two weeks early
84. Do a monthly family fun night
85. Make a birthday calendar of friends and family
86. Learn to make homemade pies, including the crust
87. Do the 30 Day Husband Encouragement Challenge twice
88. Leave 101 comments on others’ blogs
89. Learn to make egg rolls
90. Make homemade jam
91. Buy extra shelving units
92. Organize this list
93. Find a doctor I like
94. Complete the Love Dare
95. Try an ethnic cuisine I’ve never tried before
96. Give up something sacrificially for Lent
97. Find 6 recipes from restaurants I like and try them
98. Thoroughly understand how to get all over town
99. Try to find L from high school and apologize
100. Get new curtains for living room and family room
101. Make a new 101 list when this one is completed
Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Things that Strike Me as Odd

So enough seriousness in my life already.  Between my bout of homesickness and this horrible cough/sore throat I've come down with, I'm ready for something a bit more lighthearted.  So today I'm just going to point out a few things that I still find strange about living overseas.  

1) First Floors - In the US, the first floor is actually the first floor.  But in most other places, it's called the ground floor and the first floor is what we would call the second floor.  I don't get it.  I mean, it IS the first floor, why not just call it that?  You don't call the first car you ever owned your "starter" car and then the next car is actually the first car.  But that's how it is.  So you always have to be careful to think who you are talking to - North American or elsewise - when you are giving directions as it can be confusing.

2) Military Time - Apparently much of the world, not just people dressed in camouflage, uses military time.  TV shows are advertised as being at 20:00 hours, not 8 pm.  Store hours are also posted this way.  I'm just now getting to the point where I don't have to count to figure it out!

3) Light Switches - A couple of things about light switches strike me as odd.  First, in the US up is On and down is Off.  It's the other way around overseas.  But the thing that really makes me wonder is that bathroom light switches are located outside of the bathroom.  I can only image how that can make for an easy torture tool for kids who want to annoy their sibling.  

4) Electrical Outlets - In the US it's so easy.  You buy something, take it home and plug it in.  Not so easy here.  Things come in different styles - either two-prong or three-prong.  But you can be certain that whatever you buy, your home will probably have the opposite system, necessitating a myriad of different style converters.  But you should still expect popping and sparks when you plug or unplug things.  

5) Toilets - No flush handles.  Just little buttons on top of most toilet tanks.  It doesn't change life in anyway, but it's just a little reminder that you are in a different place.

6) Apparently there's a different expectation of comfort here - Sorry, I couldn't think of a shorter title.  But it seems that people are not so much into comfy here.  Couches, chairs and beds are all firm.  Really firm.  Really, really firm.  Am I communicating that well.  You might as well sit on a concrete slab.  I'm SOOO glad that we brought our own furniture over with us!

That's all the useless information I can come up with at the moment.  I'm so very happy to have provided you with a few minutes of wasted time.  :)


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Friendship of a Woman

Yesterday was a bad day.

I suddenly was overcome with a horrible bout of homesickness and spent much of the evening and night crying my eyes out.  

Things here are okay, but just okay, you know?  We are all settled and such, but I don't feel like I've really developed any deep friendships. I've got lots of acquaintances and casual friends, but I haven't found that one woman whom I just click with and call to chat and laugh and hang out with.  It's been two years and I miss that.  

I miss laughing with someone until your sides hurt and crying with them until you can't cry anymore.  I miss girls' nights out and I miss just picking up the phone even though you have nothing to say.  I miss having a girlfriend to go walking with, even though the focus is less on exercise and more on catching up.  I having friends pop in, even when the house is messy.  I miss our small group of couples, sharing joys and heartaches.

I know that God is always with me.  That really does bring me through some bad times.  But there is just something special about the friendships of women.  

We are planning on being here for a little over 3 years more.  I've just got to pray that God brings that one person along for me.  
Sunday, February 14, 2010

Emily Growing Up

So yesterday the kids and I joined some friends on a little desert adventure. We went to see some rock outcropping that were rather neatly shaped and to see Film City, a place where movies have been shot, although no one could actually name one.

Hmmm.

Anyways, we were out there in the middle of Nowhere-ville and Emily asked if she could try driving. We had stopped for lunch along the shore (don't forget Qatar is just one big, I mean tiny peninsula), so I handed her the keys and let her practice going about 1000 yards up and down the shore. She did so well that I decided to let her try her hand at actual driving when we left. Here's how it went:



video



No, seriously, she actually did do pretty well. I just put that there to totally freak out my mom.

Don't forget that Emily isn't even 15 yet. Legal age for driving in Qatar? 18. But, my friends, this is a land of scofflaws and rebels! If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!!


Now before I get scolded by anyone, there was nothing around for miles and miles to hit (as you can see in the video), she barely got about 30 miles per hour and I got permission from all other drivers in the caravan and the father of Emily's friend even let her ride with us while Emily was driving. Until SHE got the bug and called her dad and asked if she could drive their car!!!

So we mark another milestone, albeit illegally. LOL!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Stuff of Which Life is Made

Ok, due to an overwhelmingly guilt-inducing email from my sister, I have been dragged back to the blog.  It's not that I don't love blogging and appreciate all of you who, for whatever reason, choose to follow and keep up with my life.  It's just that it has become a blur lately centering on work, homework help, cooking and cleaning.  Not exactly the stuff that makes for thrilling reading, but, I suppose, the stuff of which life is made up of.  So here's an update on our life for the last month and a half.  (Yikes, it sounds awful when I say that!)

The coolest thing right now is that I'm working through The Love Dare book with a group of friends.  We are on Day 4 today and I think we are all being challenged and stretched already. The great thing about doing this with a group is that we are all picking up on different things and encouraging each other.  This is a group of women whom I have been friends with for 14 years+, started from a chat room for women with kids about the same age.  We live all over the place (well, okay, I get credit for being the most far-flung - the rest are in the States) and have all different backgrounds, but are bonded together after years of commiserating about infancy, the terrible twos, childhood and now teenage angst.  We are all in different places in our marriages, but have found that most of us have our ups and downs.  Marriage is hard at times.  Doing The Love Dare is a way for us all to learn to put the value we place on our marriage before our emotions, which can be very fickle.  

Daniel had an amazing trip to Oman.  5 days without Mom.  I think it was much harder on me than on him. (Although, privately, I will admit the quiet was a little nice.) Rock climbing, mountain biking, snorkeling, and more were all on the agenda.  Next year, in 8th grade, he'll be heading a little farther away probably to either Malaysia or Sri Lanka.  That will really freak me out.

I'm getting braces.  Braces.  At 41.  Unbelievable.  But due to my overwhelming vanity, I'm only doing the top teeth right now because the orthodontist says they can be done by summer, so they'll be off for my trip home.  And because my kids and I are all doing them, he's giving me the clear ones for no extra charge.  Words cannot begin to express how excited I am about this.  I mean, really.  Wouldn't you be excited?  Not.

Grocery shopping has been pretty good lately.  At least I've been able to find most of the things on my lists.  This week's big find?  Instant chocolate pudding which I have NEVER seen here.  I stocked up so I can make Hubby's favorite desserts - Oreo pie.

Hubby and I are locked in a battle to the death over whether or not to hire someone to help us clean house once a week.  To my way of thinking, it would cost us about $35 dollars a week for 5 hours of help and since I'm working full-time I think it's a justifiable expense.  He feels it's not necessary if we all pitch in and work a little harder.  But truthfully I don't want to work harder.  I'm tired when I get home and by the time I do dinner and help with homework and pick up, I'd be happy to let someone handle the general cleaning - dusting, bathrooms, mopping, etc.  I'll keep you posted on how that goes.

Summer vacation is just 124 days away.  Not that I'm counting or anything.

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