Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Back to School

My kids started school on Monday, August 27th, 2012. They attend a private international school in Riyadh.  I have four children in school. I wasn't able to snap a picture of my eldest son, who started 7th grade, because he hightailed it for his advisory classroom as soon as he jumped out of the car. So you only get to see the younger three. 

 I need to get a better picture of my daughter's shoes. They are super cute. And with cute shoes, how can you possibly have a bad first day of school?
 Now that my kids are back in school I'm both happy and sad.

Happy because my house stays cleaner, we have more structure to our day, I don't get burnt out on mothering by lunchtime, I don't have to prepare 3 meals a day (I'm not a sandwich mom.), I get to spend time with my youngest, shopping is a lot easier without 5 kids tagging along, there are a lot of fall activities geared toward women, less time spent cleaning, more time playing on my own stuff. . .

Sad that I have to get up at 5:30 a.m. instead of sleeping in until 9 a.m., I miss playing with my kids, bedtime has to be much more rigid, having the kids around to play with their youngest brother, and HOMEWORK.

What are your pros and cons of having your kids back in school?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Suffering Through a Saudi Summer

It was really tough being stuck in KSA for the summer. I mean look at how we spent our summer.

 Kids really hate playing with Bubbles. My oldest son thought it was terrible to sit outside and blow bubbles with his siblings.
 And Bubba J just loathes playing with bubbles. He cried the whole time. Can't you tell?
 My kids thought I was being unbearably cruel to make them swim at night. I mean it was only 115 degrees outside. That is WAY too cold to swim. They were miserable taking pictures underwater.
 Playing with beads is a really dull way to the pass the time. My kids were so BORED playing with beads all day.
 It really was tough to win an iPod touch at a mall in Bahrain. Really, really tough.
 Who wants to go down on a slide with three other members of your family? Deadly dull.
 It is really pathetic to get an ice cream cake for your birthday. I mean, how are you going to eat it all? We only like to eat carrots for snacks and dessert. And, T thought it was really hard to celebrate his 11th b-day in Riyadh.
 My daughter just hates going to the indoor playground during the day. She doesn't like to build or play at all.
 No one likes to celebrate their birthday by the Wave Pool--especially not J--who turned 9 at the end of July. It really stinks to have friends join in the fun and eat ice cream cake and cupcakes.
 J and B really disliked going to the amusement park for a birthday and riding on the bumper boats. Can't you tell that they are really sad about playing?
 Miss B turned 6 and thought her ice cream cake was awful. It's written all over her face.
 T and B thought riding on the roller-coaster was a real drag.
 And getting haircuts at the same time, for 4 bucks a pop is terrible.
 Who wants to ride a camel at an amusement park? How annoying?
 Bubba J thought it was annoying too.
 We really hate being 1 minute away from the Wave cafe. The kids really dislike getting ice cream from the cafe.
 And it really stinks going out on a date with your husband to Kingdom Tower and looking at the city from the 99th floor. No one should ever try that.
 J and Bubba J despise playing in the sandbox. I have to force them to go outside.
 My kids really don't like getting ice cream.
 She looks so miserable coming off that slide, doesn't she?
 T was crying right before I snapped this picture. I make my kids swim everyday in the wave pool for two hours. It is really rough to live on a compound with wave pool and water slide--and then there are 4 other pools. We really suffer here.
 My two-year old thinks it is really hard to go on the water slide by himself.
Look at his tortured face as he pops off that slide.

Yeah, it was a really hard summer in Saudi. We really suffered. . . 

Friday, August 24, 2012


I recently read this post  from the blog, Women in the Scriptures, about Hagar, the concubine/wife of Abraham, and mother to Ishmael, the father of the Arabic nations. When I was growing up, I never gave Hagar's story much thought--though I did think she was treated pretty unfairly. Since moving to Saudi Arabia, I've read the book of Genesis three times and have spent more time thinking about Hagar and the significance of her story.

I think Heather did a wonderful job discussing Hagar's story. Enjoy her insights!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Date Night at Kingdom Tower

We decided to go on a double-date with friends to Kingdom Tower Wednesday evening. Kingdom Tower is an very distinctive part of the Riyadh cityscape. The tower houses a very nice mall, a few nice restaurants, a hotel, and several offices.

Because we were going to such a nice restaurant, I wanted to look nice. I pulled this outfit together. Too bad I had to cover it with an abaya.  I think my man looked particularly handsome as well.  (And yes, he's gone "native" and has decided to experiment with facial hair. I like it more than I thought I would.)

We had reservations at Spazio, a nice all-around restaurant with a pretty diverse menu. I had shrimp salad and veal medallions. The food was beautifully presented and well-prepared. My veal was tender and delicious. The sauce, vegetables, and potatoes all perfectly complemented the veal. My husband and I shared a dessert of homemade ice cream: chocolate, peach, vanilla, and strawberry.

The view was beautiful from the 77th floor of the building. Wide windows overlooked Riyadh. I prefer Riyadh at night with the lights, which hides all the dirt, dust, rubble, and trash.

The restaurant was beautiful decorated, but dimly lit. This is the first restaurant I've eaten at in Riyadh which had dim lighting at night, as well as music playing. 

After our leisurely meal, we purchased tickets to walk across the top of the tower on the 99th floor. This is a model of the tower which shows a v-shape cut out of the middle of the tower. We went to the very top of the tower, above the V.

And this is the view of Riyadh that we saw from the 99th floor.

It was pretty amazing. 

We then went down to the mall and enjoyed walking around. My friend and I went to the third floor, which is a ladies-only floor. It was closing, so we just window-shopped. We saw a few women, who were obviously NOT Americans or Europeans, with uncovered hair. There were a lot of fancy dress shops and quite a few lingerie shops. The cafes were decorated in a more feminine style. And the shops had female clerks, as opposed to men. I'll have to go again, when the mall isn't closing.

It was a lovely evening, filled with some new experiences. And best of all, the company was excellent.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Najd Restaurant

Najd restaurant is one of the few restaurants in Riyadh which serves authentic Saudi food. There are many restaurants in Riyadh, but Saudi food requires a lot of time to make, so there are very few restaurants that serve authentic Saudi food. Najd is an experience in an of itself. The building is designed to look like an old Arabian fortress with buttresses and old patterns on the wall. In the middle of the restaurant is an open air garden which featured an old-style well. The restaurant is divided into rooms so that families can eat in privacy. If you remember, seating is divided in restaurants between family and male seating. The reason there are rooms in this restaurant is to allow women some freedom to unveil so they can eat in comfort. (Note: I don't wear a veil when I go out in public, though I do wear an abaya, which is a loose black robe which I wear over my clothing. Saudi women, especially in Riyadh, veil at least some part, if not all, of their faces. It gets tricky if they want to eat in a restaurant because they are not to unveil in the presence of unrelated people. )
We were shown to a spacious room with rugs on the floor and cushions placed against the walls of the room. There was a small fireplace at the end of the room. The room was decorated with traditional Saudi crafts, beautiful pottery and woven rugs on the walls. We took off our shoes and relaxed against the cushions. Our server brought in two large woven mats and placed them on the floor. We ordered a meal sampler for 3 people so we could try different foods. They brought in enough food to feed our family of 7 for a week! I was astounded at the variety of the dishes. Most of the food was stewed with various combinations of meat, vegetables, and rice.  I really wish I could tell you the names, but I don't know what the food was called. We tried camel, chicken, beef, and lamb in different ways. The camel was rather fatty, but incredibly tender. I enjoyed some of the vegetables stews. None of the food was spiced very heavily. It was very tasty. My children really did a great job trying the different foods. I think there were only a couple little dishes that we didn't enjoy. For dessert, they served us dollar-size pancakes (not like american pancakes) soaked in honey and warm ginger balls of cake. The ginger cake was delicious.
The meal was wonderful. I felt like we had eaten in a Bedouin tent and had been showered with the famous Arabic hospitality. I look forward to going again. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Online Scrapbook Class

 I think that I have already shared that I really enjoy scrapbooking. When we were planning to move to Saudi Arabia, I opted to buy a Kindle so I could take a full library wherever I went, left my paper books at home, and brought all my scrap supplies. I usually attend a Scrapbook Expo in New Jersey every year where I take classes and shop. But I couldn't do that this year. I was feeling pretty bummed about that, when I got an email from Big Picture Classes. BPC is a online craft education website which offers online classes. I ended up taking three classes-at the same time, which kind of turned out to be a mistake because I haven't been able to keep up with all three. One of the classes, 28 Days of Sketches-Round 2, has been really fun and inspiring. Each day, I get an email with a new sketch, which I then use to create a page of my own. We share our layouts in a gallery. Like I said, it has been really fun. Because I'm so proud of what I've created, I wanted to share the layouts I made. Not all are perfect or fabulous, but most are pretty great.