Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Checking In

Ethan has figured out how to move a chair to the pantry to try to get out what he wants.... Mr. Independent!
We just finished a whole 2 weeks here in Saudi so I thought I'd check in on my thoughts about the adventure thus far.  Not only do I want to do it for the inquiring minds that have been following our journey but also, I want to do it for me...something I can look back on and see where we were and how far we've come.  One thing that I'm bummed about.... that I realize now as I try to catch up on blogging about the month of July.... is that I didn't keep up with the blog as life was happening and I didn't catch the raw emotion I was feeling about living away from Brad and trying to prepare our kids for the upcoming adventure.  I want this blog to be real... the good and the bad, the happy and sad, the easy breezy and the trying.... so here is a post with all of what I hope to be my raw emotions about where we are right now!
I haven't blogged a lot this week because nothing really "exciting" has happened.  Life is now our new normal and most of our time is spent on camp.  Brad is at work and the kids and I are filling our time with.... well... anything we can find to fill our time.  We are trying to get settled as much as possible and settle into our "home".  Part of managing our home is thankfully the responsibility of others!  That is SO nice!!  So when our dishwasher started flooding our kitchen floor all we had to do was make a phone call and someone came to fix it within the hour!  So while I miss our home back in Arkansas..... I don't miss all the work and expenses that comes along with owning a home!!!
Ethan feels just about how I do about driving to Khobar to go to the mall!!!  I'd probably cry if I could!  He is just crying for other reasons!  He is use to riding around camp in the golf cart and not having to be in a car seat so when we buckled him up for the ride to town... he lost it after having to sit still for more than 10 minutes!!  See I don't think it takes us more than 10 minutes to get to the farthest side of camp and the only reason why it takes us that long is because we have a slow golf cart!   Speaking of riding in car seats- I'm 100% shocked that a lot of Saudis ( I hate to say "all" because I don't know for sure) do NOT use car seats for their kids!!!  I see kid riding on laps in the front seat or playing around in the back seat....as BAD as drivers are here, I'm shocked more isn't done to protect the kids while riding in cars!!!!
 Brad got a lot of looks for carrying around 2 kids.... We rarely see the men walking with the women and children much less helping out like this!
Our latest trip to Khobar, on Saturday, was still exhausting.  While we didn't show up as stressed because this time we actually knew where we were going so we saved time and energy on the drive there... it is still just mentally exhausting.  I'm a worldly person and I've traveled a lot and not a whole lot bothers me about new things but there is something about this that is different that is hard to put into words.  Brad even noticed I'm not myself and commented that he has never seen me get this razzed this easily before.  A couple of things- I'm HOT.... and I HATE being hot.  So to have long sleeves on that are sticking to me makes me crabby.  On top of being HOT- I have kids that are tired and feeding off my energy and want up or want ME and I don't want to pick them up and I don't want to be touched... which adds to my crabbiness.  Then I'm trying to navigate in a world where I don't speak the language and can't read signs.  Then I worry about logistics of traveling with tired, hungry kids and trying to find a place to eat but having to wait for prayer time to be over.  It's all just a lot.
Yes, we ate at Chili's again! : )
And this trip, as much as I try to avoid it, we had to use the bathroom in the mall... UGH!  I wish I would have taken my camera in there to take pictures of it all.  Every potty was the traditional Middle Eastern potty (I'll take a picture soon), the floor is wet (from the "butt sprayer"), we find 2 "American" potties.... one is covered in water (from the "butt sprayer") the other has no toilet lid.  I'm not a huge germaphobe however I am when it comes to bathrooms so this is my WORSE nightmare!!!!  After debating with Addyson for 5 minutes... she is just as hard headed as me and wants to pick her stall although I've tried to tell the kids that here, it is MY rules in the bathroom.... she finally picks the stall with the wet potty I have to wipe down and cover with toilet paper (thankfully this stall had toilet paper because most don't) and I sit her on it and tell her not to touch anything!  Then, she argues with me about which sink she wants to wash her hands in... she wants to use the sink near the door which is used to wash before prayer time... I have to tell her to trust me and I'll explain to her later why she can't use that sink.  See, everything is a learning process an the problem is that I can't explain a lot of things at that moment to the kids... I have to wait until I can take them aside and whisper in their ear that things are done differently here!
While we were at the mall we did some grocery shopping... that's a post all of its own!  It is such a different experience that I'm easing my way into.  I'm trying to expand what I buy each trip by a thing or two so we can start eating more at home... we have been eating out a least once a day.... I'm happy to report that we ate at home 2 days in a row this week!!!  One thing I've realized is that you have to stock up if something you like is on sale or if there is a product you like because it might be gone next time you go shopping!  Our kids love cheese sticks and a pack of 4 is about 24sr ($6)... I went to the store the other day and they had them on sale for 2sr ($0.50) so I purchased all of them and stuck them in my freezer!!!  Most people here have a deep freeze for this reason!
Eating dinner at our newest purchase at Ikea
All in all, life is good on camp.  It is laid back... which is taking some getting use to!  There are lots of kids and more and more people are coming  back from holidays so each day we are seeing new faces and meeting new people.  It is also a friendly place.  People can tell we are new faces (since everyone knows everyone and they don't know us so we MUST be new) and they reach out to us.  It is SO nice to live in a community like this.  I know if we need anything there are lots of people willing to help.  And people just stop by.  I'm not use to that.. but I love it... however, people are catching me in my lounging clothes with toys on the floor... but that's life here and I'm sure people are use to that.  Just this week I met 2 neighbors because they just stopped by to say "Hi!".  It helps with any potential feelings of loneliness.  We are also starting to meet up with other families.  Today we met a family at the pool for a 2 hour swimming play date!  The mom is from St. Louis and has 3 girls that is close to the ages of my kids.  Play dates are helping fill our days, keep us from being lonely, and helping us establish a routine that is close to that of our one back home!
Addyson got to go get her special drink she earned from filling out her stars by doing chores.
People have asked about homesickness.  Honestly, I don't have any.  It probably helps that I have my family here with me so I'm not missing them.  Life on camp has a more of a Western feel than out of camp (don't get me wrong, it still has a STRONG Saudi feel but it is more laid back) so I can be more at home which helps.  Really, it still feels like vacation so missing other family members and friends hasn't really sunk in... feels like we'll be home soon so there isn't too much to miss yet... heck, the kids and I spent 3 weeks in Canada so we've been gone from Arkansas for longer before!  As of right now, what I miss the most is getting to watch "my" tv.  I miss drinking my coffee and watching the Today show in the morning... without this or really any news program I've been able to find, I feel really out of touch with what is going on back home.  I also hate that I can't just turn on the tv and watch one of my favorite mindless shows.... I have to go to Hulu and see what is offered... and doing that just isn't the same as easy access to tv.
Showing off their reward drinks, thanks to Addyson's hard work.  The mail center is behind them
The one thing that makes me anxious is to think about the longevity of this.   We are in this for the long haul, this is the dream for us but, to stop and think about it and that we are actually doing it makes my heart skip a beat.  I'm NOT a planner but it is hard to be here and not think about the future and being here 5 years from now especially when a lot of the families I have met have been here 5-6 years... which makes me sit and look at us and our journey and where we will go.. it makes me think about the future and being gone from family, friends, the US, the comforts we like for a LONG time... and it takes me breath away.... I have to remind myself to live now, in this moment, and enjoy the ride!  Again, I'm not a planner... so why start now?!?! : )

Playing bowling with empty water bottles... Owen is keeping score
There are a couple of challenges with all of our free/ down time.... learning how to entertain ourselves... especially when it is SO hot and humid outside... so much so that you don't even want to go outside to walk across the street to the rec center.... I've been told it was such a "nice" summer and for some reason we are getting hit with the humidity this past week and a half... it is SO bad that people are actually late to work because they cannot see well enough to drive to work in the haze the humidity causes!!!!  Anyway, back to my problem with free time... the kids and I are use to being on the go... especially since I filled our schedules this summer... that it is SO hard to not be rushing from one play date to the next or planning the next trip.  It is just us.... me to help entertain them... and I'm tired... exhausted (Ethan still isn't sleeping through the night getting up about 3am, 4am, and then up for the day at 5) so trying to come up with things to do with our minimal resources is hard and for my kids, learning that we don't go somewhere every day is hard too!  They have been watching A LOT of tv... but I tell myself it is okay because we are on survival mode...the good thing about tv is it is giving Owen ideas for activities (like bowling) so that helps us with the entertainment.
One of the things I've really enjoyed is having Liton our house boy (he is washing the windows in this picture... he cleans them once a month... a MUST here since they get coated in sand).  Having him come twice a week has freed up a lot of time for me... more time I can spend with the kids.  It has been GREAT!!!!  I hope we are able to develop a great relationship with him and learn more about him the longer he is with us.  Right now it is kind of weird to have a guy in our house cleaning while I just sit around.
Owen playing with his airplane we made out of the water bottles after our bowling game... when Owen saw our house for the first time his face lit up and he said, "Daddy, I'm so happy!  I've always wanted a house with stairs in them!!!
So, there is an upside and a sort of downside to our new life style..... Brad is home SO much more.  We have relaxing mornings at home, there is no rushing out the door.  We have lunch every day with Brad, he either comes home or we pick him up at work and go somewhere on camp.  And we have long evenings together, Brad is home by 4 every day.  There is no rushing around in the evenings so we cook dinner together, sit down for a relaxing meal, and do something together in the evening.  It is great!  The "downside" (I really can't think of a better word) is we have to relearn how to be together SO much.  We aren't use to ALL of this time together.  At times, I find us looking at each other trying to figure out what to say next.  It is like we are the textbook "empty nesters" just we are only in our 30s and we don't have an empty nest.  We were always looking for that "down time" together and dreamed of what we would fill it with and now, we have it and can't figure out what to do with it! : )  Not only is that the "problem" with Brad and I... it also holds true with our kids and trying to fill our extra time with them... which I think is adding to the additional stress of finding entertainment for them in all of our extra time together.  But, this IS a good problem to have!  Luckily, Brad and I can joke about it and our awkwardness in it all and know that soon, before long, we'll have stuff to say and things to fill our time.  I think part of the secret to enjoying life on camp is getting hobbies, as a family and as an individual, to fill your time and help with entertaining.  So, that is part of what we look forward to doing!  I've already taken a liking to reading and have already read 2.5 books!!!!  And Brad is reading the same books so that helps gives us something to talk about!!! : )
At the clinic after getting their blood drawn!  Ethan didn't make a peep!!!  The big kids cried getting to the chair but once they started drawing blood they were so brave too!
All in all, it has been a great 2 weeks in Saudi... as a family... together again.... living out our dream!  It won't be long before all of the things that cause me stress and anxiety don't even make me think twice.  We are all enjoying the ride...and thanks for following along!

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