Friday, April 29, 2011

Shwarma Nights.

Each weekend the camp has a BBQ, aka "Shwarma Night" up in the Hills (the other part of camp, we live on main camp). We're regulars. Nice thing is they serve everything from shwarmas to stir fry, hot dogs and friend fries to cheese bread and kabobs. Every one gets something they like and I don't have to cook it or clean it up. Brilliant.
The boys run around and play in the sand, in the trees, on the swing sets, rocks walls and ride firetrucks and horses on bouncy springs. It's a happening little place to be and we always run into playmates for the boys and friends of ours to share a picnic table and chat. Truly everyone knows everyone. We all work, live, shop and go to school together. It's hard to go out on camp and not run into someone you know.

Shwarma Nights are pretty low key and easy, but still let's you feel like you "got out" for the night.

This is what it looks like from the swings. A patio with tables and lights. Off to the right are the bouncy/springy toys, behind is the official snack bar and recreation center.
Another view of the serving lines.
Just for fun. Another picture of Carter climbing a tree. He loves these nights as well. This was his first real tree climbing and yelled for me to come take a picture. He was pretty proud of himself. You can see the swings behind him and rock wall.

Monday, April 25, 2011


I miss our dog this week. Stieger you are missed buddy. The boys miss you, I miss you.

The first week we brought you home, you were so little. Who knew Mike would ever cave and let me take you home.

Wish you were here, although at this point, I doubt you'd want to trade the farm life for the desert either. The boys still talk about you and Carter pretends to name any animal he sees your name. I believe this is his way of pretending you are here with us on this adventure.

This week as I laid on the couch with a blanket over my legs I wished you were there to snuggle behind my knees and sleep. I've missed the way you turn your little head when we talked to you.

I missed you as I watched other families walk their dogs and I missed you when the boys chucked their hot dogs under the table. You were always so helpful with kitchen clean up.

Thank you Grandma Izzy and mom for taking in our dog when we took this job. For lightening our load by giving our little guy a place to call home.

There may be a long airplane ride to the desert in your future buddy. But that will have to be in the winter when it's safe for you to travel again into the sandbox.

*Post edit. We tried to get him here. At the time we were coming there were restrictions in place to not allow small dogs into the country. Random, yes. Went through all of the paperwork and hoops to jump through in the States. Including having the vet write a letter that he was medium size and a guard dog for the family. Also, having my mom take forms to the State department in DC for us to have them signed for the dog before she jumped on the plane to Houston. We did all we could in the US and shipped the paperwork to Saudi and waited.

The entire time our relocation person for SA kept telling us he wouldn't get in because he was a terrier. She wasn't optimistic at all. It was pretty crushing actually. So without hearing anything from SA, although we were calling a lot- we sent him with my mom right after we closed on the house.

The kicker is two weeks after we arrived Mike received an email saying our dog was approved. But by then it was too late. We were already here and he was already in VA.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Look who came for a visit armed with Easter basket goodies.
The Easter Bunny that's who.
The big hits. The super large chocolate egg.Along with the other hits, new Pooh and Tigger toothbrushes, Cars and Thomas the train breakfast sets and the candy of course. Which the bunny kindly didn't leave too much of. I guess he heard how successful the egg hunts were and knew the last thing the boys needed was another sugar overload. So he just left a few Cadbury eggs and some fruit snacks. Mom thinks, good bunny.

*On another Easter note.
The past few days we've been talking about the true meaning of Easter. It is not really about a cute little bunny who bring goodies. But about a loving Savior who died and rose again. Together we watched this, a message about Easter and Christ. We watched and I was moved to tears.

Carter, in the most loving way that an almost four year old could understand, longed to help Jesus. He kept telling me, "Mommy, Jesus is hurt. I need to go help him."
Children are amazing. Their ability to understand and feel the spirit is far greater than we think. They are close to the spirit, they are close to the Savior.

Happy Easter.
Much Love, A

Egg Prep.

Can't expect the Easter Bunny to travel this far to the sandbox and visit a house without dyed eggs. So we obliged, thanks to Grandma who brought an egg dye kit with her back in March.Owen was already in bed before we started the eggs. He did still get a chance to dye eggs just not that night.

Good times.
I even had the green fingers after wards to prove it. Sign of a good mom and a not so good egg dyer.

Egg Hunters.

We celebrated Easter on Friday, our sabbath day here in SA. Church was wonderful and uplifting. It was a rare sabbath day for us, Owen fell asleep in my arms at the end of sacrament and slept throughout Sunday school still in my arms. Mike opened and closed the sac. meeting because I was pinned to the chair with Owen. That was a first.

We are so grateful for the Savior, for the atonement and his resurrection. Grateful that the Lord loved us enough to send his son. Grateful that Christ loved us enough to take on our sins and make the ultimate sacrifice so that we can one day return to live with them. Easter is, indeed, a celebration. He is risen and lives and loves each of us.

After church we took the turkey out of the oven and went over to a friends house for Easter dinner and another egg hunt. We are also grateful for good friends and beautiful afternoons spent chasing kids, finding eggs, eating ham (can't buy it here, it's a BIG luxury and very rare. Who knew I would miss bacon so much. ) and enjoying the company.

Carter Egg Hunter extraordinaire.
Jen helping Owen at the start of the egg hunt. Owen is a pretty relaxed egg hunter. Rounding up the last few eggs. At the end of the night Jen, Lisa and I, sorted through the plastic eggs to save for next year. Only in SA would you label and sort plastic eggs which you can normally purchase for a dollar. Oh, what we do for our kiddos. Happy Easter!
Hugs, A


We hunted a lot of Eggs this past weekend.
The Easter bunny was very busy in the sandpit.
The youth held an Easter egg hunt for primary and nursery kiddos in the afternoon. It was a beautiful day to run around and find eggs.
An even better day to devour every last bit of candy before your mommy can get to it during the Easter program. Needless to say, the boys had fun.Mike wasn't able to come, so Tiffy took us and helped wrangle the boys with me. Bless her!There was a small program where each child was given an egg to open and then hold up to the group. Carter took his job very seriously.The best I could do with both of them together.Owen looking perplexed to where the bunny ears went and Carter matter of fact showing off his basket.

Bunco Night in SA.

Here are a few photos from the Bunco group I just started here in SA. There are a few other groups that play on camp. I decided to start a new group for the playgroup moms. A lot of us are fairly new from a few months to just a few years. Bunco will be a chance for us all to get together without kiddos and get to know each other better and share a lot of laughter and fun.

I have missed Bunco and the girl time it provides. It was a great feeling to have my home full of new friends, sharing a meal, small talk and a lot of laughter. That is what makes a home - fun and laughter. Thank you to each of the ladies for coming and joining. There will be many more of these nights to come and I am thrilled about it!

The food served on the new kitchen table Mike built for our family. I served Chicken tortilla soup, chili, seven layer dip, cornbread, chips and salsa, salad, watermelon and fruit dip, and cheesecake brownies. Fiona also made a birthday cake for the April birthdays.
Fiona, Franca and Carissa.Shelly, Edith, Kelly and Roseanna.
Jennifer, Erin and Kasondra.
Jen, Charlotte and Kj.
Tiffy and I serving cake.
The birthday girls blowing out the candles. Charlotte, Jennifer, Kelly and Edith.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Another week has come and gone and I'm just flat out tired.

The potty training was officially started (big boy undies and all) and came to a thrashing halt when Owen came down with a stomach bug. It's been a tough few days for this little guy. I suppose in a week we will pick up where we left off again.

Finished more projects in the house and touched up some walls with decorations. All in preparation for having 15 lovely ladies over to our house... for none other than the first Bunco Night!

I admit, I loved my Bunco group in Houston. I loved everything about it and it was very sad to move over here and not have the monthly get together with some of my favorite people and some great laughter. So after six months here, it was high time I started my own group. A few tweeks to the prizes and such and it was a hit. It also deserves its very own post... tomorrow.

Spent another afternoon at swim with Carter. He's coming along. He's also a total boy and has the attention span of a fly. This poses a challenge.

We spent a morning with our friends the Borns at the yacht club beach. The kids ran, dug and swam in the gulf and had a great time. Not a wave, or really a ripple that morning in the water.

We've had a lot of "moral group" get togethers and a few special visitors over the past week as well, continuing to keep us busy. Heard several messages that we needed to hear and continue to feel good about our decision to be here and what we are doing. It's comforting to know the Lord has a hand in everything and if we are obedient and faithful we will continue to be blessed and taken care of. That doesn't mean we won't suffer or will not have trials, we will, but we are never alone. The Lord can fix anything.

It's starting to heat up here. I can feel the summer heat wave rolling in and I'm afraid. I can't even imagine what 120 degrees will feel like. So the boys and I plan to skip town with the rest of the ladies and kids on camp. We plan to bail out of the sandbox the end of June and not come back until school starts.

This is also what we've been working on, summer plans. Would be a lot easier if both of our families lived closer, rather than on opposite sides of the country, and if we hadn't just moved from the very middle of them both. This is going to be a challenge. But as long as it's not roasting above 120 degrees, we will be up for it!

The house is quiet again. Both boys are also tired this week. I think it's partly the heat. Partly Carter going back to school and that darn little bug that has knocked Owen down for a few days.
Really not an excuse for me. I need to take more vitamins. Yes, that would help.

I have more posts coming. We really have been busy at work and I don't want to write everything down now. You have to see some pictures to fully appreciate the business and tired Dille's from all of it.

Miss you all.
I really do.
Hugs, A

Monday, April 11, 2011


LiSTen Up. A few FUnnIEs the boys have said in the past few days.

I made Cheesecake brownies again last night (they are my current favorite).
I then went to the gym so I could eat them later without any guilt.
Yes, I am that kind of person.

So while I was gone, Carter requested to Mike.
"I eat popcorn and Christmas (pointing to brownies) and watch a movie."
Yes, that would be MY kid. I also might agree with that statement.

I came home both boys were in bed, not asleep yet. I hear Carter yell- mom, mommy, mom...
I go into his room.
Carter, "Mommy I want you to snuggle me."
Me, "I need to take a shower buddy."
Carter, "I want you to take a shower, get dressed and THEN come snuggle me."

I head off into Owens room to kiss him goodnight.
Remember this is the little guy who would lay by the door and scream just two weeks ago.
So in I go.
Owen, "Mommy I sleeping. Get out."
Mike had built him a little fort with a blanket over his crib.
He was not sleeping. He was playing.
Me, "love you buddy. goodnight."
I then try to hug him and he pushed me off.
"Mommy. Go away, I sleeping... Nite, Nite."
I find it safe to say he's come a long way in two weeks.

This afternoon Carter wanted a snack after lunch.
I said no because we just had lunch. (This happens a lot.)
Carter, " Ugh." (In a matter of fact voice.) "I take a nap and get a snack."
Me, "You haven't taken a nap. You can go lay down and take one."
Carter, " Okay."
He heads off to his room. I think I'm lucky. Awesome. He's taking a nap.
Maybe three minutes pass. He comes back into the room.
Carter, " Mom, I sleep, now I'm awake and I get a snack."

Carter is ALL about his birthday.
It's in June.
That's a long way for a three year old.
He was looking through a kids magazine and pointed to EVERYTHING and said,
"Mommy, I want this for my birthday... You buy me this for my birthday."
Me, "Carter those are A LOT of things."
Carter. "Mommy, I know. It's my birthday... I get A LOT of presents!"

There are so many little moments like this where I laugh out loud.
The boys keep me on my toes for sure.
Laughter truly is the best remedy for everything.
That's it for now.

We're outta here!
Hugs, A

Thursday, April 7, 2011

No Fear.

Owen is fearless.
He always has been.
Fearless, yet cautious.
He watches, figures things out, and then takes off.
(Silently and quickly most of the times
Last week he watched Mike on the diving board.
This week he was determined to follow daddy.
The life guard encouraged him, not that he really needed it, and off they went.

Carter wanted nothing to do with the diving board.
Owen went three times and still wanted more.
Our little man is THE man.
No fear. Just glory.

I was able to get a little video of him the first time. After wards the life guard made me put the camera away. Cameras are not allowed at the pool. I'm pretty sure he was being nice by letting me use it for a short time. So thanks to the life guard you can see the little man in action.

Yes, I do believe we are now "Poolies" as Em would call us.
Two weeks straight.
It's been fun.

Hugs, A

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Carter took a late afternoon nap.
He woke up grumpy. Real Grumpy.
He climbed onto Mike's lap and continued to be grumpy and cried.
Mike asked him what would make him feel better. Ice Cream?
Well, go get it.
Carter disappears and comes back with a gallon of ice cream.
Mike tells him to go get a spoon.
Minutes pass.
Carter comes back.
Now with three spoons and three bowls.
I climbed the door and got them out.
He was so proud.
We laughed and ate ice cream together.
He earned it.

Six Months in SA.

This week we hit the six month mark of being in Saudi.

*A yellow hibiscus from our front porch. Such a cheerful little flower.Half a year in this sandbox.
I hate the sand unless it is on the beach.

I can't believe it has been that long already. It still feels like yesterday when Scott dropped us off at the airport with all eight of our dish barrel boxes. I still remember the panic and tears I cried before we boarded the plane.

I remember eating nothing but cheese bread, chips and salsa, and salad with a cold coke for the first month. I do eat more variety now. Took awhile to figure out what and where to get things here.

The slow internal clock getting over jet lag with the boys.
The excitement of when our shipment arrived. The feelings of home that came after painting the first wall in our little house.

We are here and we are staying put for a while.
Sometimes I love it.
Sometimes, I just don't.

Pros of SA
  • Family time. Having lunch and dinner with dad.
  • Mike's working hours and his lack of stress from work. He's a much happier guy.
  • Mike likes the wood shop. He's made us a kitchen table and has plans for a few beds.
  • Mike also likes the golf course on camp. Very lucky to have a grass course only minutes away.
  • Extra help. Mike with the boys and our house helper, Ali.
  • Our house. It's smaller and one story, but generally we really like it.
  • Up until the past few weeks the weather has been great. Not humid, not cold, perfect.
  • We have a pretty good sized yard with four palm trees. The boys really like to play outside too.
  • Shopkeepers. Most of these people are from other surrounding countries and are generally kind and welcoming.
  • Facilities. Our camp is pretty large comparatively and is beautiful. It's green and plush. We love the pools, the playgrounds and the convenience of having shopping and services on camp.
  • The library. The boys and I go each week for a stack of new books and a few kids dvd's. We never used the libraries in Houston. We use this one ALL of the time.
  • The beach and gulf.
  • Fresh vegetable and fruit markets.
  • Camels, it's cool to drive down the highway and see them line the roads.
  • The support network of other members of our "moral" group. We feel blessed to have this.
  • I now have more confidence in myself. At first I felt stand offish. Now there are days where I think, I dare you to come talk to me. I'll tell you what I think of that. On those days Mike seems to stay by my side more. :)
  • Short commutes. The farthest place on camp is only 8 minutes away.
  • It's nice to have several US chain restaurants for the days when you feel like eating food from home.
  • Adventure. It's pretty cool to say we live in the Middle East now. We've come a long way from Logan, where our life together began.
  • Another big PRO, was the recent bonus from the King. Yes, that was pretty sweet.
Cons of SA
  • My worst days here involve the medical system.
  • Separate waiting rooms for men and women. This totally bugs me at the medical clinics. Mike and I usually stand in the hallway together in silent protest.
  • Not being able to drive off camp and only being able to drive slow on camp. I miss driving on Houston highways. Speed, I miss speed.
  • Sand. It's only fun at the beach and sand dunes. Not everywhere else.
  • Rights. Not having very many off camp.
  • Abiya. I put up with it but don't like it. I also feel uncomfortable sitting in a waiting room and being the only expat in a sea of covered faces.
  • Shopping times are dictated around prayers. I respect this, I really do. I am a firm believer in prayer. It however doesn't change the stress level that comes with shopping around the said prayer schedule. Also, every thing closes between noon and 4:30 for the most part.
  • Things close early. All the time. If it says it will close at 10, it really means 9:45 for you and the workers will be gone by 10. Drives me nuts and only escalates the time restraints on everything else.
  • No return policies. You have to make shopping decisions here very quickly and are mostly rushed (see two cons listed above). Which wouldn't be too bad if you could return a rushed purchase. Most cases you have 24 hours to 2 days. But it is tricky and there are many other stipulations as well. Also remember that to "go back" I have to have Mike drive me there or take a driver or cab.
  • Driving here. Mike doesn't like having to drive every where. Every time we leave camp I know our lives are in Mike's hands. He does a good job but it is everyone around him that drive insane! They make up lanes, drive far too fast and will make a turn in any lane in any direction.
  • Trash. Khobar is not a pretty city. (Granted there may be a few places that are.) Camp is beautiful, off camp not so much. There is trash everywhere and things just seem dirty, because for the most part they are.
  • Lack of lines and personal space.
  • Salt Water showers and laundry.
  • This may always be on my list- no gym day care. Boo.
  • Being far away from the rest of our family and friends.
  • The in between feelings of this not really being home yet and not having a home in the States anymore.
Over the past month or so, we've painted five rooms and put chair railings in the dining room. We've started to hang things on the walls and really set up this house as our home. We are investing sweat, time and money to make this place ours.

Sometimes as we sit on the couch and watch TV it feels like we are still in Katy. Then the sand storm rolls in and nope, definitely not back in Katy.

As I type this another sand storm is coming in. The boys are in bed and I can hear the dryer running. Mike is on the couch looking for shows on Netflix. So many normal things in such a not normal place.

This is a three day weekend for us and we really don't have any plans. Just more little projects to work on and another private swim lesson for Carter after another week of class lessons. This kid will swim if it's the last thing I do.

So six months down. Only 4.5 years left until we hit our five year mark. lol.
Hugs, A

Friday, April 1, 2011


Some weeks go by and you think,
What did we do?
Where did we go?

And you're not really sure what to answer.
This week, however, I know EXACTLY where we spent most of our days.
I believe the kids toes and fingers may still have water wrinkles to prove it.Armed with goggles, swim shirts and trunks, sunscreen and great attitudes, we spent our mornings playing in the water and watching Carter learn how to swim in swim class.
At the end of the week, Carter can now hold his breath under water and is a great "rocket." He's shooting off under the water holding his breath stretched out like a rocket back and forth from us to the stairs. These are all big steps for the little guy who for the past three years has had the challenge of just breathing through his nose. He's made so much progress and we are so proud. We plan to continue the group lessons, granted was can get a spot and then will also continue some private classes once a week.

The classes are for 3 yrs and up. So while Carter was in class, Owen had the run of the baby pool and the rest of the pool with mommy. I am usually juggling both boys at the pool, so it was a treat for both of us.
He LOVED the goggles. On his eyes or just on his forehead.
Stealing the noodle from swim class. The life guards thought he was so cute they just let him have it.Carter.
Some juice with his goggles.
Still makes me laugh.
What's better than one silly little boy in goggles with a juice box?
Why, two, of course!
The last swim lesson day I promised the boys we'd stay and have lunch at the snack bar.
Chowing on some pizza and french fries. It was a great way to spend the week. On camp, at the pool, no pressure to go or do anything else, but hang out with the boys, splash and play.
Now this is all they want to do.
It's beginning to feel like summer.
Hugs, A