Monday, January 30, 2012
I keep reminding him to leave the ants alone, and despite the frequent bites, Bubba J persists in his quest to rid our house of the pesky ants.
I suppose it is time for some adult intervention and something stronger than a shoe.
But I kind of feel guilty about it. I don't have a problem with people hiring help to clean their homes. I have friends who have help. My mom has a cleaner come in once a week. Really, it's cool. But for me???? Yikes! Am I being lazy? Am I providing yet another opportunity for my kids to be lazy and fail to learn the value of hard work? Or am I doing the right and moral thing by hiring someone? I know I will treat them well and decently, which isn't something that is always guaranteed by other employers.
Sunday, January 29, 2012
After the kids finished their assessments at the American School (anxiously awaiting an acceptance decision, but more about that later) we caught a taxi home. I had forgotten that the compound had advertised a mini-bazaar on Saturday. So when I saw the vendors near our villa, I realized that I had caught the tail end of the bazaar. Even though my husband had lunch ready for the kids and I, I couldn't resist taking a peak at the bazaar.
So picture several tables set up in along the sidewalk (almost like a craft fair). Some wares are displayed on the ground, while other things (like clothes) are hanging on portable rods. I don't know if the bazaar was larger earlier in the day, but by the time I got there, there were about 7 vendors. Three of the vendors displayed tables full of jewelry. There was some gold jewelry, but a lot of it featured polished stones of various sizes in necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. I liked what I saw, but I wasn't in the mood for jewelry. Given the state of things in our house, I was on the hunt for practical items.
At the end of the line I found a vendor with pot holders, aprons, and several "touristy items" like ceramic camels and notepads. I bought an apron with a camel on it and a nice-quality pot holder. Both will remind me of Saudi Arabia in the future.
I also found a new abaya. I wanted to have to have abayas because the abayas get so dusty and dirty. The vendor selling the abayas said, "I bring you the latest styles, very nice abayas, very good price". I had to laugh, because I don't consider abayas particularly stylish, but I suppose the Arabic ladies DO consider style when purchasing this item. I bought an abaya with a hood this time. My other abaya comes with a scarf that can be put over my hair if needed. (I will try and get a picture of both so you can see what they look like.)
There was a vendor selling framed daggers and swords. We've seen framed daggers and swords in other homes. They look really cool and I know my husband would love to have one before we leave the Kingdom. But I didn't want to buy the first one I saw and really, he should choose the one he wants. The same vendor also sold beautiful chess sets very similar to the set my BIL bought us from a bazaar in Kuwait when he was deployed.
After looking at the wares, I looked at the last table of beautiful Oriental carpets. The colors and patterns on the rugs are beautiful. The vendor tells me the carpets are handmade out of silk and wool. Hestitantly, I ask the price. $5000 for a small rug. Oh goodness! I can't afford that, but the rugs are SO gorgeous. Maybe someday!
And that's that! I look forward to more bazaar experiences.
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Friday, January 27, 2012
Our boxes arrived before we did! I think it is probably the first time in history that has ever happened to anyone. We met some people today who have lived in the Kingdom for 1 year and still haven't gotten their stuff.
This is the front of our villa. We live in a row of villas. They may not look like much on the outside, but the inside is spacious!
Another view of the front of the villa. You can see that B already got out the bikes. The kids have biking and riding their scooters non-stop.
This picture is taken from in front of our house and then turned to the left. The wave pool is over there. And notice the palm trees! Lots of those around!
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Just a quick rundown. Most of the food was good. My fish was a bit dry and overcooked, but the butter sauce was excellent. My dessert, a brownie blast, was a bitter disappointment. B's dinner of chicken curry, fatouch salad, and hummus with arabic bread was delicious. The kids' food was decent. The prices were reasonable and the convenience was fabulous.
I definitely think we will visit the restaurant again, though not too frequently. I'm looking forward to visiting a highly recommended Arabian restaurant in the city and there are plenty of Lebanese restaurants around. I LOVE Lebanese food.
Bubba J ordered the meatballs with mashed potatoes.
A ordered macaroni and cheese. (sigh. . . she was really mad when I told her that I had not brought mac and cheese from the U.S.)
J ordered chicken nuggets with french fries. (I SWEAR I introduce my kids to a wide variety of foods. Perhaps the fact that they rarely get mac & cheese and chicken nuggets informs their choices?)
T ordered pizza with mushrooms.
W and B shared the Fatouch salad, hummous with arabian bread, and chicken curry.
I ordered the fish steak with butter sauce and french fries. I also got the brownie blast for dessert.
Bubba J's meatballs were flavorful and tender (the addition of pork would have made them perfect) served in a delicious tomato sauce. The mashed potatoes were tasty. I didn't try A's mac and cheese but it certainly wasn't from a box. J's chicken nuggets were actually hand-breaded pieces of chicken and looked good. The fries were perfect, crisp and golden on the outside and soft in the middle. T's pizza looked good. B and W's shared meal of the fatouch salad, hummus with bread, and chicken curry was delicious. My fish was a little overdone, but the sauce was wonderful. The fries were perfect and the veggies were tasty. My dessert was a complete failure. The brownie was dry and undersweetened. I don't like overly sweet brownies, but you do need enough sugar to really get the right chocolate flavor.
The service was decent. The staff was helpful. The restaurant was
While on the bus, I met some friendly women who recommended that I memorize the license plate of the bus. Sometimes there are more than one bus waiting and so it is helpful to be able to recognize it.
Granada mall is close to my compound, about 15 minutes away. The mall is clean and spacious and boasts many European and American stores. Some clerks were Saudi men but most clerks come from different parts of Asia. Most everyone speaks English so it was pretty easy to get help.
I love going to shopping stores in foreign countries. There is something so authentic about shopping for the necessities of life. You can learn a lot about a different culture through shopping at a local grocery store. I also liked mixing with everyone. Black robed women swished around, pushing carts. You can tell the Western women because they don't cover their hair. It is a little harder to tell the difference between foreign and Saudi men. Some men wear robes or thobes, while others are dressed completely in Western clothes. Regardless of the various styles of dress, we were all after food.
The selection was really wide. I found a nice basic selection of vegetables--nothing too exotic. The squash looked anemic. But the carrots looked very fresh and sweet. The lettuce was dicey, but the tomatoes looked great. The store featured a wide variety of fresh fruits in season and reasonably priced. They also had an entire section of the store dedicated to dried fruits, nuts, grains, whole and ground spices that you could request in various weights. A clerk waited anxiously to help you with your selections. I saw whole white peppercorns. In Sweden, I used white pepper for certain Swedish dishes. It was cool to see the whole peppercorns.
Instead of bringing your vegetables and fruits to be weighed at the checkout stand, you get them weighed by clerks in the produce section. They weigh and label your produce.
The meat section included entire lamb carcasses! They had a variety of organ meats for sale including tripe. I am still trying to figure out what tripe is and how one prepares it. I played it safe by buying chicken and some beef from New Zealand. I am not very experienced cooking lamb so if anyone has lamb recipes they would like to share, let me know.
The cheese counter had a pretty good selection of cheeses. I asked about a large white cheese round that looked good and learned that it was a Hungarian cheese. They gave me a sample. Both W and I both thought it was delicious and ordered a kg of it!
My shopping strategy was to go through each aisle to get an idea of what products they offered. There was a good blend of foreign and local foods. I like to eat local foods as much as possible. I was able to find yeast (yeah!) so I can make bread.
We were about halfway through shopping when an announcement came on saying that the store would be closing for in 20 minutes for prayer time. I went back to the cheese counter because the clerk spoke English very well and asked him if I had to leave and he told me that I could stay in the store and continue shopping but had to wait until prayer time was over to purchase my items.
W and I found the things we needed and then waited until prayer was over. We joined the masses of people waiting to check out. I couldn't ascertain any logic in which line to choose. Some people stood in lines where the stand number was lit while others waited in lines where the stand number was dark. I saw another Western woman and stood behind her. I started talking to her and she said that you just guess which line to join and hope that a clerk will show up.
We picked the right line and checked out pretty quickly, though I fumbled with the money again. Then we went outside to find the bus. When we got outside, a man with a Carrefour shirt on offered to take the cart for us. At first I thought it was okay, since he had on a uniform. But then he started running. At the moment, I thought, "he's stealing our groceries". I chased after him, contemplating tackling techniques when he slowed down and asked where my driver was. I explained to him that I was on a bus and then showed him where I thought the bus was parked. He took my cart to the bus and helped me load the groceries. In the end, it was okay, but there was a moment when I thought I would have to take drastic action!
I feel pretty confident in handling myself on the shopping bus and in the mall again. I am going to try and go to the different malls so I can get a feel for the best places to shop.
I look outside and while it is a sunny 65 degrees, the water doesn't entice me at all unless it were a hot tub. I am in the middle of trying to prepare lunch and my husband kindly offers to take the four older children swimming while the baby sleeps and I cook.
In a matter of minutes, the children are dressed in bathing suits and have burst out the door, running toward the wave pool and waterslide. The boys climb up the stairs of the slide, eager to tackle it after longing for days to try it out! W reaches the top, sits down and realizes that the water is very, very cold. As he slides down, he concentrates on keeping upright, avoiding the icy water on his back. As he reaches the end, and begins a free fall down to the pool, he begins to rethink his whole strategy and then plunges into the frigid water. T rapidly follows, experiencing the same second thoughts. Only J analyzes the water situation and tactfully retreats from the slide. Within a few minutes, all of the children have decided that the water is too cold.
I don't think I'll be getting many more requests to swim until the weather gets warmer!
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
* Discovering the grocery store just a few steps away--the prices are decent and the food selection is fair. Great in a pinch and when I am not quite ready to venture out.
* Finding my toiletries quickly--making my shower that much more pleasant.
* The kids are reveling in their freedom to explore and play without a parent hovering over every move.
* Discovering that the Magic Jack does work well.
* Mango Juice!
* Nice weather--not terribly warm, but definitely not cold.
* Meeting neighbors.
* Realizing that I left my ipod charger and phone charger on the airplane.
* We need to replenish our food and I'm busy.
* Bubba J got hit by the swing and has a big fat lip.
* A few random ants. (I hate ants!)
* I think we may have fried my computer by plugging it into the wrong outlet.
* The grocery store clerk asked my kids to leave after they bugged him while buying candy. (Will have to review ettiquete and behavior with them!)
* JET LAG!
* The internet crashed.
Monday, January 23, 2012
2 year old boy: Bubba J
5-year old girl: A
8-year old boy: J
10-year old boy: T
12-year old boy: W