Sunday, October 31, 2010


HaPPy HAlloWeen!
Trick or Treating was WAY better than we had expected. I have to admit, my expectations for Halloween in the Kingdom were low. With it being a strighct Muslim country I didn't think there would be much happening on camp. But I was very wrong. It was fantastic. In fact the camp is swarming hours before sunset with activities and the gates are packed with families coming to visit "friends" and partake of the festivities.
We lasted about an hour. It was a great hour. The boys had fun walking from house to house and filling up their bags. Saying "trick or treat" and "thank you." We left while they were still happy and not yet tired. Great timing.
Owen took a while to catch on that he only got 1 candy from each house while trick or treating. Instead he would stand there with his bag open waiting for people to give him more candy. Mike usually had to coax him away and onto the next house. Once he realized that he was racking up the candy he wouldn't let anyone touch his bag. He insisted that he walk and drag/hold his own bag.
Carter LOVED everything about Halloween. Mostly his costume! He woke up that morning at 6:30 and told me he was ready to get buzz on and go to school. Then I had to bribe him to take the costume off for a nap. He was a little hesitant about a few of the scary costumes walking around, but really liked it when people recognized him and called him Buzz.

Hope you had a SpOoKTacuLaR Halloween Too!

Hugs, The Dille's

*Thank you Grandma Dille for the costumes!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Night Out.

This past weekend (remember Wed. night is like Friday night here- weekend are Thursday and Friday), we had a long awaited date night. We were invited to a Halloween Party. A little challenging without costumes on hand or a Party City around the corner. Lucky for me, I bought a pumpkin shirt at Target before we left the states for trick or treating, so I was actually pretty excited to wear it for another occasion.

Once the boys saw me, Owen exclaimed "pumpkin" and then ran off to find his costumes/dress up clothes. The boys costumes came from a "thrift" store for women on camp. Actually a pretty cool thing to have. I'm saving their Halloween costumes for the big day and then they can wear them around the house.

So here we are. Superman, Pumpkin and Mr. Incredible.

Even superheroes need to eat. A little dinner before the babysitter arrives. Nothing like a little vintage pumpkin tee and black flats. Mike in his "spooky" tree t-shirt. We had to make his current wardrobe work. Not too shabby. I think the handsome man makes the shirt. Now on to the best part of the night. Chili's in Saudi!!! Yes, it lived up to my expectations, could be the fact that I have been craving this little piece of home since we got there. Only took me three weeks to get there and the awesome couple we are with, Tiffany and Dave, to make it happen.

The only things different, the ice cream not as good. Ribs are beef and not pork, not as good. But the chips and salsa were right on and the sides were too. Everything else looked the same and was awesome! I'm an American through and through and this taste of home was just what I needed. After dinner I pronounced it the best night in Saudi so far, in which Tiff and Dave replied I was pretty easy to please and Mike laughed.

The interesting thing about being here and eating out is the family and bachelor sections. As women we always sit in the "family" section, an area for women and families to eat separate from the bachelor area. This allows the women to unveil to eat and a lot of restaurants have partitions they bring over to the booth to provide privacy to eat so that no one else sees the woman unveiled. Men never eat in the same section unless they are with their family. Sometimes it feels like restaurants create a box room in the back, slap a "family" room sign on it and call it good. So many things to learn and write about being here. There are a few good things about the family section, you can actually hear the people you are out to eat with and the privacy is nice.

We believe we found a babysitter we like and so do the boys. It was great to get out, get off camp for a bit and spend some time with other adults. It's not home yet, but I can see that maybe it could start to feel like it soon. Amazing what a change in perspective a little Chili's can provide. Hugs, A

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Week Three.

Week 1 - Arrived and couldn't wait to get out of here.
Week 2 - We only wanted to go home half of the week and then decided we could stay for a month to get our first pay check and then we could go.
Week 3 - We are warming up to the idea of a new life here and can see ourselves staying longer. Maybe not the five years we initially thought before we left, but longer than a month or two. We are all starting to make friends and finding our ways around camp and town better.
We are now officially here. We received our official residence permits, and our visas to enter and exit the country for the next year, and Mike has his SA drivers license. Now we begin the task of finding a car, which is nothing like it is back home.
Just because, here are a few more photos of our house.
Our kitchen. The counters are Corian or something similar. I also like the sink. The cabinets leave much to be desired, but will work and could be worse.
Our neighbors had the cabinets above the sink removed and had recess lighting put in. The kitchen doesn't have any natural lighting so it's a bit dark. We plan to do the same and do some painting. You can also see off to the left the little kitchen nook area.
Our "backyard" is the only real thing about our house that we are having a hard time with. For some reason, who ever approved this below wasn't thinking clearly.
It's a fantastic idea to put three, yes, THREE telephone and cable (whatever they are) boxes a foot from the bottom stair on the back patio, in the MIDDLE of the tiny backyard. I'm a little up in arms about this one and have been working on getting the boxes moved or us moved to another house. You can't have these in the middle of the backyard and have two incredibly active toddler boys. Just not a safe combination.

We are holding off on doing anything to the yard and house until this has been settled. I'm in US mode I want things decided and completed quickly. Let's not waste time people. Unlike here, where the sense of urgency seems to be laking. Which in time, I suppose I will like, but for right now is a bit annoying. So next week we start again. Going to the housing office every few days to "check" on the status of our house and the boxes. Wish us luck and speedy responses.

Another angle to fully appreciate the awesomeness of it all. We do have a bigger side yard on the other side of the house.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Along with turning Two...
Comes Two year Molars.
This cute little guy has two half way through right now and looks like the other two year molars won't be long after. Still can't believe Owen is about to have all of his teeth.
What a fantastic toothy smile it is!
I believe this officially means my baby is no longer a baby.
Although, if you ask him he will tell you "I da baby."

Saturday, October 23, 2010


This is what Carter did during nap time/quiet time yesterday.

And this is him telling you about it.

Carter translation. His Tiggers are now monkeys.

A few hours later we walked into his room and ALL of his animals were somehow hanging from the dresser handles. By the foot, arm or tail. Hilarious. I believe we are all going a little stir crazy in the house. Good thing our three year old is learning to use his imagination productively rather than destructively. Silly Carter.

Love this kid and all of his fabulous antics!

New House Pt. 1.

Here's our NEW home Sweet HOME!
The picture above is complete with the sweet cars we've been blessed to borrow from other expats here for a few weeks. We have to wait for a few visas and permits to come in before we can buy a car in the Kingdom. So we've been driving these bad boys around camp and then take the bus or a driver into town.
So we live in a 3 , 2.5 bath modular home. It's blue/grey and around the corner at the end of the street. The street we live on is tucked away near the corner of camp, which is nice because there isn't much traffic. It's a one story home and is about 1800-2000 square feet. It's actually a really good size. We're just lacking a yard for the boys to play in. We have gardeners coming in the next week or so to plant grass and bushes and such. Most of the house has wood laminate floors, which is nice, and then we have carpet in the bedrooms.
Here is the view from my house down the street. We live in Main camp. The amazing thing is that around camp it is green and lush. They try hard to make expats feel at home here in Dhahran. Then you leave camp and EVERYTHING is sand, even the houses are a sand tan. We're very close to the gulf as well, only about 15 minutes in the car outside of camp. This is the view from the living room into the hallway and dining room. This is the front part of the house. The bedrooms are lined down the hall and the master is in the far back. Don't mind the mess, we just received our E box and the boys were playing. The furniture we have now is on loan from the company until our shipment gets here sometime in December. The TV is ours. Our first big purchase when we arrived. A definite upgrade for our family and the boys love watching movies on the big TV.
This is the small den off of the kitchen. It has sliding glass doors into the small backyard. I plan to turn this into the playroom, get a small couch and use the chair and ottoman from our old house. We found a few toys and this tent at a yard sale on camp. They have those here too! Fun, huh?
Keep checking back New House Pt. 2 coming soon!

Celebrating Two with Owen.

We celebrated Owen turning TWO with presents, candles, cupcakes, chocolate sprinkles, and a lot of play time with the family. He was a happy guy all day and loved all of his presents. His favorites have been the little wooden trainset, Leapfrog fridge magnet letter set and a Leapfrog Scout Dog (that you can personalize online with his name and favorite things).
It was a very successful birthday. Owen has taken another year in stride. Now comes all of the awesome things turning two comes with.
Owen loved opening presents.
The key was making sure Carter didn't take over.
Daddy helping Owen and Carter anxiously watching for the new toy.
Me and the boys.
It's not the best picture but I'm still waiting for my desktop to arrive and it's much better for editing than the laptop.Owen waiting for his cupcakes. The moment before this he was trying to scale the cabinets to get to them.
Owen after his cupcake. Saying cheese with a mouth full of frosting.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Owen is TWO.
Owen turned two on October 12.
He loves trains, the color blue, milk, dinosaurs, Buzz Lightyear, flip flops, Icee's, soft blankets, singing the "Sunbeam"song, playing with his brother, wrestling with dad, teasing his big brother, running, being tickled and bathtime. He also has a new found love of cheese bread since we moved to Saudi. It is all the little man wants to eat and constantly requests it.
He loves shoes, his shoes, your shoes, big shoes and little shoes. Yet he doesn't/ won't keep them on. He's on a kick right now where he takes them off after a few minutes, in the car, at the park, at the store, you name it, the child refuses to wear them. But if I take them from him once he's pulled them off, he protests and wants them back. I'm so confused about this new shoe phase and hope it passes soon.
Owen naps each afternoon for 2-3 hours. He still sleeps in a crib and will sleep for around 10 hours each night. Owen is interested in potty training but not totally ready yet. We continue to try and have had a few successes. Once we get settled here into a new routine we plan to jump start the process and have already purchased Thomas the Train undies to try.
He still sucks this thumb, mostly when he falls asleep or snuggles with his blankets. He's also still a fantastic little snuggler and loves to cuddle and watch movies or read books in your lap.
He's a bit shy and stand offish around new people, but once he's comfortable opens up. He's a sensitive little guy and doesn't take the word "no" very well. He runs and hides if you holler at him for doing something, or will drop his chin, push out his bottom lip and cry, complete with alligator tears.
He is starting to talk A LOT now and putting two-three words together. He's at an exciting stage and each day we see more and more of his personality develope.
Owen wears size 6.5-7 wide shoes and 24 month clothes.
2 year well check stats.
Weight 32 lbs, 90th %.
Height 34 3/4 inches, 75%.
BMI 18.6, 50%
(I don't think his height was accurate at all, she measured him standing up in the hallway and was trying to explain to him how to stand, hello? he's two. He doens't get the stand up straight against the wall thing)
Owen is a joy to have in our family and we feel very blessed to be his parents. I still look at him in awe, and think how did we get so lucky? His smile warms my heart and every time I look at him I can't help but smile.
Happy Birthday Owen. Love you buddy!

First Week.

Our boys our last Sunday in our home. Not at all post related, but I thought with all of these no photo posts I needed to throw in some cute boys.

Here are a few notes from our first week in Saudi Arabia.

Sunday, Oct. 4- Last day in the US. Spent it with the Ramages. Pack, Park, More Play and Pack. Several tears and only one true melt down as we walked into the airport, oh wait and then again, as we ran to board the plane.

Monday, Oct. 5- The flight was great. Long, but other wise great. Both boys slept (thank you Lynette for the melatonin hint) for about 8 hours and were able to watch Toy Story 3 several times. After traveling Business class it will be VERY hard to go back to the cheap seats on such a long flight.

We arrived in Damman late Monday night. We essentially lost an entire day. Left when it was dark and arrived the following night. All of our boxes (we had 8 dishbarrel boxes that were checked and not a single one was opened- awesome!) made it through customs without any problems.

Tuesday, Oct. 6- First real day here. Mike headed to lunch with his new work group to Chili's and thankfully brought home some chips and salsa for me. Taste the same and was a much needed taste of home. The RS president stopped by to say hello and took me and the boys to the commissary. We ended the night at Brian and Yvettes for dinner. (The great family who picked us up from the airport. Brian works with Mike. They have three older boys who our boys already enjoy and adore.)

Wednesday, Oct. 7- Day two was tougher. Owen woke up sick and continued to throw up and sleep for a solid six hours. Then wakes up and is as good as new. Poor guy, it was a long and strange morning.

We ventured out of the compound in our first family taxi ride. Crazy drivers here and I mean crazy. Even though I am not allowed to drive outside (laws of SA) off the compound I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to anyways.

We made it to IKEA. Two thing occurred here.
1. Carter saw his first women dressed head to toe in black, abiya and head/face coverings, only her eyes were seen. His reaction-
"Daddy, it's a bad guy...BAD GUY!"
and then ran behind Mike. The realization hit that perhaps we should have prepared our three year old a little more before our little outing. We have since explained that the "bad guys" covered in black are "mommies" and not bad at all.

2. We experienced our first official hazing. Parked our cart in the designated area outside of the food court, by the prayer room, and returned to find a soda dumped in it and all over it. Then it felt real, we are here and not in Houston, or the USA anymore.

Thursday, Oct. 8- (First day of the weekend here, picture this as Saturday) Mike went TV shopping, I made if to the Hyper Panda (supermarket) in my abiya, and this is the first day Carter asked for Chickfila. Spent the day dodging prayer times, everything closes down for prayer and this requires planning to be able to get in and out in time.

Friday, Oct. 9- (Sabbath day here) Went to church in a local school and were the rowdy ones in the side row. Not very many little ones and our boys made sure they were noticed. They loved nursery, walked in without any problems. There are four kids Carters age and one Owens. We were invited to dinner at the Reynolds. Another young family here with a new baby. We have spent a lot of time with these guys as well. So helpful and welcoming.

Saturday, Oct. 10- (like Monday here) First day of work for Mike and first day of preschool for Carter. Yes, I already have Carter in preschool and lucked out to have him enrolled in what I've been told is the best one on the compound. I feel very blessed, it's a great program, four mornings a week and he loves it.

Sunday, Oct. 11- Our first trip to the Aramco medical facilities. We had to have blood work taken for our permament resident visas. Having both boys blood drawn proved to be a bigger ordeal than I had thought. The nurses were great at what they did, it was just a little much to have their faces veiled and have them armed with a needle to poke the boys. Owen did better than Carter.

So that's it, our first week here in The Kingdom. Add to that an awesome case of jet lag and several visits from the maintenance team to fix things in our house here.

We are borrowing a car from a co-worker of Mike's so we've been able to make it around camp and have made it into town a few times on the company bus. The boys love the bus and when we see it around camp now they beg to ride it.

Pictures soon. I'm still a little unsure about where we can take photos. I'm unsure about a lot of things here. This is a BIG change for our family and I've had several moments where I have wanted nothing more than to get back on a plane and go home to Houston. Then a few moments where I think, it will get better. I'm grateful for the people we have met here, they have made all of the difference and are helping to ease the transition.

More posts coming soon.

Our Oama phone is up and running as well. Feel free to call us on our Idaho number. We are 8 hours ahead of Houston.

Much Love, A

Saturday, October 9, 2010


We've arrived in the Kingdom.
Well, about four days ago we technically arrived.

We still don't have Internet at the house so I'm using the computer at a friends house to do a little updating. So this also means, no pictures just yet.
Things have been ok. Not great, not totally bad, just ok. I suppose they will get better, and we know they will in time. So for now we are hunkering down and trying to get a lay of the land, figure out our new life here and what that means for our family.

We have been really fortunate to meet a few wonderful families here that have had us over for dinner and helped us get around town for some grocery shopping and such. That has been heaven sent in every way possible. Going into their homes and being surrounded by things from the US, makes you feel less homesick and less like you are on the other side of the world. It's comforting and makes me realize that once our shipment arrives in a few months our home will feel more like a "home."

Today is Mike's first official day at work. (The weekends are Thursday and Friday here- we go to church on Friday and start the work week Saturday.) Carter also started preschool this morning. So this morning it is Owen and I catching up on emails and chasing our friends dog around the house.

Perhaps the most exciting news is about Owen, seems that our almost two year old is a big talker now. We joked that he might have received a gift of tongues on our international move. He's like a parrot and can repeat almost everything we say. It's clear and his vocab. has exploded. He also has the MOST adorable little voice, I may have fallen in love with him all over again.

So much more to write and update. Soon. Just waiting for the Internet at our home and then I'll get updating. I'm hoping once we have that I'll start to feel more connected and less like I've been dropped off the face of the world.

Love you all and miss you terribly.
hugs, A

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Last 24 Hours in Houston.
Last 24 Hours in the US.

I'm overwhelmed, sad, so very sad, indifferent, scared, exhausted, numb, a little excited and still overwhelmed. Yet, I continue to feel like I still have time in this city, but sadly that time is almost up. How do you close a chapter in your life? How do you close it and feel ok?

The week has been packed, so full of errands and the last to do's before taking off, and not enough time to spend with those we have come to love here in Texas. Not enough time to tell everyone how much they have meant to me and how much I love them and will miss them. Never enough time.

Still so much to do.
Expect a lot of catch up posts when we are up and running in Saudi.
There is so much I want to document and share.

Until then, we're off to Saudi to start our new adventure, our new chapter.
Just 24 Hours left.
Then 15 Hours on a plane...
and then, just then, a new chapter begins.

I miss you already.