Thursday, November 25, 2010


The acient Roman philospher Horace admonished,
"Whatever hour God has blessed you with, take it with grateful hand, nor postpone your joys from year to year, so that whatever place you have been, you may say that you have lived happliy."

Today I am grateful (with a touch of home sick) for...
New friends that welcomed us into their home for dinner.
The feeling of hope that this will begin to feel normal.
The love of my husband and two sweet boys.
For the life I have been given and the chances I have to live.
For the technology that makes the distance between seem shorter.
I'm grateful for those who have come into my life and made a difference.
All that I have been blessed with, because the Lord has been so generous to us.
Our family this summer at the farm.
We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We did. Complete with turkey and pumpkin pie. We had dinner with several families on camp at a sweet couples home who were up to the challenge of hosting 15 adults and a whole lot of kids! Although we entered their home as strangers, we left as friends. I have never felt so welcome and today I needed that and I am grateful for it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Purple Turkey.

Both little guys are in school now. Carter goes to a preschool four mornings and week, and Owen just started playschool three mornings a week. I feel so fortunate both boys were able to get into these programs, especially since we arrived after school started and both schools have waiting lists. Both programs are run by ladies from the States and have mostly Western kids in them focusing on US curriculum prep. They love their schools and I'm enjoying a breath of air and some time at the gym.
Carter is working on his letters. Each week he comes home with a new one. Here's the letter D- for Dinasour and our favorites- Dad and Dille.
Yesterday at preschool Carter's teacher asked the kids to put on their tennis shoes. In which, Carter quickly replied, "These are not tennis shoes... they are FAST shoes!"
Owen made a Turkey at school yesterday. Can I tell you how much fun it was to pick both boys up and see their new crafts. We are embarking on a new stage of life and it's bittersweet and exciting.
This was Owen's first week at school. He was a little hesitant at first to go in, but did great. Not one tear. They said he was really easy and laid back. Thank goodness.
So here is the purple turkey, which Owen promptly took the legs and eyes off of in the car on the way home from school.
A few cute ones of Owen while I was trying to get him to show off his turkey.
This is the "no" face.
This is the shy, giggle face.
I'm a little biased but I think everyone should have a purple turkey on the fridge for Thanksgiving. Oh, and a set of cute little boys to chase each other around the house with that same turkey.
Hugs, A

Monday, November 22, 2010

Golden Arches.

Is there really anywhere in the world without a McDonald's? Amazing to me how many of the same franchise restuarants are all over the world. Yet, with the same name there is no garauntee you'll be eating the same Big Mac as back home. I'm happy to report the fries are! The apple pies though slightly different and not as flacky, aren't bad. I'm really not normally a big fan of McD's. As I'm sure you all know, we are Chickfila eaters. But when times are tough, and you need a piece of sanity- in the form of an indoor kids play area where your toddlers can run a muck and not destroy your own house- it's a great feeling of relief to spot the Golden Arches from over the hill or around the bend on the highway.
We happened to arrive at this one, right outside of a different gate to camp, just as prayer time started. At that point it's atleast 20 minutes before the place will open again. (The key here is to get in and out before prayer, or get in right before and start shopping during prayer, and always place your food order before prayer starts. Because once it starts EVERYTHING comes to a screeching hault and the doors are locked.) We should have just gone back home and had lunch, but once the kids saw McDonalds nothing but nuggets and fries would make them happy. So we drove around for almost 30 minutes waiting.
Remember I told you about the family and single sections? Here it was like two completly different restuarants divided by a wall all they way up to the counter to order. We couldn't see the people on the other side and no one could see us. The seating area was filled with two rows of private booths with privacy curtains.

The play area was pretty much the same as one back home. Slide, ball pit, tubes and stairs. The boys had a great time jumping around and really enjoyed their private playground. We were the only ones there. Ideal for all of us.

Ok, so we don't eat fast food very much. Especially not here. But it was nice to drive down the street and see a Burger King, McD, KFC, Hardees and Dominoes. Now when we are totally spent we know what gate to leave in and where the drive thru's are.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Black Out.

Went shopping last week. Can't remember where. But I do remember what I saw. My first official "black out." Lucky for you I had my camera in my purse. Now you too can feel like you are walking through a store here and admiring the SA censorship. Now imagine you are in an abiya too. It just got that much better didn't it?

The little black blobs are women in bathing suits on the front of the pool floatie boxes. A little too risky for this side of the world.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Christmas Cards with Shutterfly.

The holidays are approaching, but things are a little different for us this year. Moving across the world it's no longer an easy trip to the local post office to send off Christmas cards or a trip to the store to pick out cards. So I thought, maybe this year we wouldn't send them. Then I thought, NO WAY! I love Christmas cards and look forward to "real" mail and updates, I know you do too!

So it was on. Time to find a way to make this work for us. So I did some searching and you know what? Shutterfly will ship them to each of you for me. Not only that, I can design and personalize them, add our family photos and then input and store all of our personal addresses for mailing. (Think how easy this will make Birthday cards and other holiday greetings. Awesome, yes.)
If you're still in the States you can send the cards to yourself and then ship them out on your own. Most of the time you can find a coupon code for free shipping and right now they will ship orders over $30 for free. Score for you!
So here are my TOP THREE Christmas card Picks from
  1. With Love Chartreuse Christmas Card. You can make this card a Flat or Folded 5x7. I fell in love with a card like this one last year that my Sister in law sent out. I love the monogram of the family name. I also really dig all of the photo options. It's so hard to get everyone to smile in one family shot. This gives you the chance to post one family photo and then add in individual photos of your kids, where they are at their best and cutest. Besides, the more the merrier.

  2. Love 2010 Christmas Card. This 5x7 Flat Stationery card I love that you can combine the Christmas letter and the actual card into one. I really like the area on the side to list your family highlights for the year. (Ours would be something like this, sold the house, moved to Saudi, Traded Jeans for an Abiya, Mike Got a New Job, First Trip to the ER, Boys are Best Buds... you get the idea.) Also, it's always nice to have two photo spots. One for the family, and another one of your cute kids to share. Another bonus, the colors are also fun and cheerful!

  3. Joy Sage Story Christmas 5x7 Folded Card. I like the simple, elegance of this card. The text also rolls several holidays into one, so you can knock them all out with one card. The folded cards are a great deal, you can really maximize the space with pictures and updates on each person in your family. The inside has six small photo spots with a box for text next to each photo.

There are more websites out there than can do similar things. But Shutterfly I have found has better selections of cards, better quality cards and makes the process simple. Which, let's be honest, with two little boys constantly on the move, I need simple.

I've already designed our cards and plan to place my order this week. After this post, I bet your wondering which one I picked. Too bad. You'll have to wait. A little Dille Christmas Cheer should be appearing in your mailbox soon.

Hugs, A

Are you a Blogger too? Bloggers can get 50 FREE Christmas Cards from Shutterfly. Sign up!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Likes/ Dislikes.

My feelings so far about living in SA...
  • The weather. Not very humid and usually in the 70-80's midday. It's been amazing and we picked the best time of the year to make our move to the sandbox.
  • Our house. It's just as nice as our home back in Houston, kind of, but 1/3 of the mortgage. It'll be better once we start to paint and take down a few kitchen cabinets and add some recess lighting.
  • Being close to everything on camp, which translates to little to no commute for Mike. A the most, it takes 8 minutes to get to the other side of camp. Mike can walk to work. I love that we can walk around the corner to a park and that I can run down the street to the gym.
  • Other Expats. Seriously, everyone is warm and inviting and can pick out new people pretty easily. I was at the commissary one day with Owen when we first got here and had a shopping cart of food, mostly soy milk for Carter (when you find what you like you HAVE to stock up b/c you never know when it will come back) went through the checkout line, talking to another young mom I just met. I realized I didn't have my Visa and not enough cash. I was so embarrassed and started asking him to take things off the bill, when this nice lady just handed him her Visa and said put it on there. It was so thoughtful and so appreciated. I'm still a little embarrassed to this day about it, but was able to pay her back. That would never happen at the Kroger down the street at our last home.
  • Playgroups. We are in two and I LOVE them and look forward to them. The kids get along well and so do the moms. It's nice having a network of new ladies with little ones around the same age. Although, there are A LOT more little girls here than boys. Now, I just need to talk some of the ladies into playing Bunco and starting a group, then I will be really happy. I miss my Katy Bunco ladies and a monthly girls night.
  • Preschool. I LOVE Carter's preschool and feel so good about what he is learning and his teachers. I also just heard news that there is a spot in the 2 yr. playschool for Owen. Oh happy, happy day! So this will free three of my mornings up for the gym.
  • Having a Driver for the morning. When I go into town I hire a driver for the morning. He comes to pick us up, loads the kids in the car for me, drops me off wherever I want to go, waits for me, helps me with groceries and things, and will also run into the bakery to pick up cheese bread. I love Mr. Muhammad. Not all drivers are created equal. I've got a good one.
  • Downtown shopping. In eclectic little shops with one of the kind pieces of furniture, art, tapestries, jewelry and decor, and a shop owner who bargains with me. All in the experience, that you know the minute you walk in the door they jack up the price to the "expat special price." I'm also loving the three pieces I've purchased, yup, just bought an entertainment center made from old doors.


  • Salt Water. Everything is saltwater here. The laundry, the toilets, the showers, you get the point. We do have one sweet water line in the kitchen sink. So I fill up a water bottle and use the sweet water to rinse my hair in the shower. The salt is doing a number on everything, not sure how long our clothes will last at this rate. I very much dislike it.
  • Sand. I know that we moved to the desert. It was our choice. But I hate the sand. I like it at the beach. I do not however like it in the car, all over the floors, at the playgrounds, in my kid's hair and ears and in the nooks of clothes pockets.
  • Add to the sand, the large number of Ferrel cats plaguing the camp. It's like everything is their litter box and that makes the kids playing in the sand even more yuck. They need a serious spay and nueter campaign here.
  • That my blogger is set to the Middle East and every time I hit spell check my entire screen turns yellow because it's not in Arabic. Even though I changed the language to English.
  • The censorship. Not of violence or profanity, by any means it's much better to show people shooting people and swearing up a storm of four letter words and violence, rather than a couple kissing. I don't get it and everytime I turn on the tv at the gym it ticks me off. Needless to say we have not purchased cable. We watch tv on the internet instead.
  • The way workers on camp will not understand me at all, but still tell me, "no problem, no problem." Yes, there is a problem, you have no idea what I'm talking about, which they reply again, "same-same, no problem, no problem." It's not that there is just one language to translate; it is a large mixing bowl of languages making communication a challenge.
  • The Gym here. The actual gym is alright, but the lack of day care at the gym is killing me and makes having the time to get there that much more difficult. I believe the gym's back in the States have spoiled me and I'm having a hard time adjusting. And I am bored there. I need more options and classes and a work out buddy. I believe I need a new program and am hoping for Christmas my sis in law makes me one, wink, wink.

Just a few thoughts about my first five weeks here.

Totally unrelated. Just downloaded the new Mindy Gledhill cd, Anchor and I LOVE it.

The music makes me happy, add to that a cold coke, warm cheesebread, the smell of the new pumpkin candle I bought at a craft show burning and the autum colored table runner I purchased, and I am one very happy girl.

Despite the things that annoy me here, life is good.

Today is good. Hugs, A

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Making the Most.

We arrived in Saudi the first of October.
Three weeks later we recieved two large air shipment boxes.
Not until the end of December do we expect/and are scheduled to receive our large shipment. This shipment pretty much being EVERYTHING we own and that makes our home feel like an actual home.
I believe this may be one of the hardest things about the move. Not having our things and not being able to run down to the store and pick up our favorite things. Toys for the boys, kitchen items, keepsakes, decorations, nice towels and sheets, yummy smelly wall flowers, all of the comforts of our life back in Houston. Yes, we have the most important thing, each other. But in all honesty, I'm couting down the days until they show up with our crates of "home."
It still feels like we are visiting. Staying in a rental unit with strange company furniture and playing with borrowed toys and comforts. So until then, we are making the most of what we have been given.
I give you THE Aramco Living Room Tunnel.
Each excursion is an adventure with the possibility of a collapse.
An afternoon of entertaining two off the wall little boys. Good times at our house, no matter what side of the world we are on.
Believe it or not, we have the nice couch pattern.
Don't you wish you had these in your home?
I know you are jealous.
Hugs, A

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sweet, Sweet Ride.

2001 Suburban.
It's Saudi tough and we like it.
We laugh about the trucker lights on top. It's for when we get buried in the sand people will know where we are.
I wish we had the before picture of it. It use to have black pinstripe down the sides, but the guy we bought it from surprised me and took them off because he knew I wasn't a fan. We also had the windows tinted. It looks great now and I'm pleasantly surprised and really happy about our new ride.
There are no bells and whistles inside, but it's in pretty good condition. We feel safe in it and bought it from a trust worthy man who specializes in finding cars for expats on camp. He came highly recommended and we now know why. We told him what we were looking for and this was the first car he showed us. We bought it that night. It wasn't what we really wanted, but it's what we could pay cash for and feel good about. He then did ALL of the paperwork for us and dropped the car off a few days later with everything in hand, and a few added bonuses. No pinstripe and tinting.
First tank of gas, SAR 53 which translations to $14.13. There's a perk to living in an Oil country and working for them too.

It's a hard decision when you get here. Buy new- you know the history of the car but it's pricey and there's no real financing. You also have to get some one to help you in the first place. Most times as a Westerner they don't acknowledge you at the dealerships. Or you can buy Used- but you never really know the history, so it's tricky to find a reliable car. The good cars from other expats sell quickly, most often to another expat months before the person really needs to sell it. And we find that some people here try very hard to take advantage of the new expats (like us) and will ultimately take you for a ride (we almost had this happen on a BMW Z5).
So given all of this, we feel blessed about the Suburban. Just like the things that had lined up to make it possible for us to come here, I feel like this car also lined up just in time for us. There is a reason we are here.

Friday, November 5, 2010


When Parking your Car in The Kingdom...
Anything goes and there's no garauntee your car is safe... EVER.
Also, feel free to park ANYWHERE.
No really, if you feel so inclined go ahead and make a space right there on the side walk.
Don't mind anyone else, because really it is all about you. Yes, you big old GMC. Had I been in my own personal car, and not as a passenger in the Jeep you squished, I would have opened my door, hard. I mean very hard you jerk. *okay, maybe not really. But I'd like to think I would have. Dave did nudge their car and try to make the alarm go off. No such luck though.
Come to think of it. How do you think that Suburban was even planning to get out of that parking space? Mind boggling really.
Making the story even more entertaining, when we parked there originally a BMW was parallel parking behind us and backed into a work truck. Not just a little tap, more like a pretty good smack. Really there is no shame, or seems like drivers ed here either.
Lesson learned on this one. Proceed with Caution, when driving and parking, and well pretty much doing anything involving a car here.
*A little Teaser for the next post. We bought a car. We like to call it our "sweet, sweet ride." Any guesses on what we purchased?!?

Thursday, November 4, 2010


LiPs... enough said.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Into Town.

I look forward to Tuesdays. For the past few weeks each Tuesday, Tiffany and I have taken a driver into Khobar for a little exploring and shopping. It's nice to get off camp and nice to spend time with a new friend and our boys.
Carter is in preschool so I only have Owen. This week I brought the stroller and it was a lot easier not having to chase after him in the little shops. There is a lot of chaos a two year old can cause climbing towers of rugs and trying to mount large elephant statues... you get the idea.
Here's Owen and I. Sweet Abiya huh?
If you look behind me you can see an intersection. No stop signs, no lights. People just drive through them and you hope the person coming the other direction slows down or stops. Still freaks me out. The streets are one way and squished with parked cars on each side. Our driver has an Expedition and it amazes me how he can manuever around all of this.
Looking down the street the other direction.
Tiffany and Baby Andrew. Or as Owen calls him "Baby Drew Drew."
The official "goods" from the trip in town. Lots, and lots of Cheese Bread from Latiff Bakery. We freeze some, fridge some for the day and eat a few fresh. Our driver was prepared this time and called the bakery when he picked us up to place an order. Yes, this is my favorite driver for sure now.
I've made a few "big" purchases on our town excersions. This one I purchased today. It's an old set of shutters from Khobar. I plan to hang this on the wall. I love everything about it.
This treasure I found on last weeks town trip. The color is more rich in person and has a set of shelves inside. I love this piece too.
You can also see our pumpkin for Halloween. Officially the most expensive pumpkin we have ever purchased. And then the great debate happened, to carve or to save for pumpkin pie in November. We opted to save it, the need for pumpkin pie won. So if you have any fantastic recipes for home made pumpkin pie and know how to cook the pumpkin and such, please, please share!
Hugs, A