Saturday, January 9, 2016


I don't take many pictures of our cat ... mostly because she's a scaredy cat and always runs the other way when people come around.  She's only cuddly at night and she loves to sleep curled up between our legs.  She took over our bed the other day and was so cute, I had to snap a few pictures of Maps.

Napping at the end of our bed in the sunshine with one arm dangling off the end

She relocated between my legs after I laid down.  Still has one arm dangling over the edge ... her signature move

Doesn't get much cuter than this! 
Clearly our cat has a very rough life!

Soccer and Jaden's Laser Tag Birthday

In addition to the ExxonMobil Qatar Open, we also kicked off the Doha Soccer League this weekend.  Both Jaden and Nicholas were assigned to team AC Milan.  Jaden plays on AC Milan grades 2/3 and Nicholas plays on AC Milan KG/1.  I'm on the fence whether having the same team name will be easier or harder for me to keep track of their schedules.  Time will tell. 

I'm always astounded how many children we know in the league and how few friends we have on our teams.  Nicholas has 1 friend on his team this year, but Jaden didn't know anyone.  Opportunity to make more friends!  Both teams played well this season and to help our timid but reasonably skilled soccer players, we have resorted to bribery.  For every goal they score, they earn 5QAR (about $1.50) to spend on candy and treats at our compound market.  Maybe this is bad parenting, but I'm going to say it's simply incentive.  Our boys typically hang back from the pack and today Nicholas scored 1 goal and Jaden scored 2.  Not bad for the first game of the season!!!  :-)

Jaden's AC Milan grades 2/3 team

Nicholas in action!
After the soccer games, we went straight to Villagio mall for Jaden's 9th birthday party!  When did he get to be 9??!!!  How time flies and how blessed we are to call him our son.  Sweet, sensitive, happy, friendly Jaden is 9!!  We celebrated by taking him and 9 friends to lunch at Shake Shack (burgers and fries) followed by laser tag!  The boys had a blast but it is a very short game.  Only 10 minutes!!!!  It was crazy expensive, so I wasn't about to pay for a second round.  We finished the party with ice cream cake -- Jaden's favorite!  It was so much fun!  Even I had a great time!!!  So nice when there is not a ton of preparation or clean up involved!!  Loved it!!

The birthday boy!  All hot and sweaty after a morning of soccer and a round of laser tag.  Picture taken by a friend (who is clearly better with a camera than I could ever dream of becoming) 

NO IDEA why the staff at Shake Shack put handkerchiefs on the boys heads, but they were all troopers about it!

Seriously, what is the deal with the handkerchiefs??

Listening to music on Ian's ipod while we wait for lunch
Nicholas always says that he and Ben are one person in two bodies.  Not sure about that, but Ben is a great friend to both boys!

Ben on left and Hamza on right were having a staring contest.  I'm not sure it was healthy how long they could go without blinking!!!  I was most impressed!!!

Blue team ready to play:  Ben, Jaden, Skyler, Carl, and Viktor

Red team ready: Ian, Thomas, Hamza, Isaac, and Teddy in front

Nicholas didn't play laser tag.  He was too short and the vests were too heavy, but he didn't mind at all.  They let him in the room and run around while everyone played, so he was a happy camper!

Lights out ... ready, set, go!
Final Score:  Blue team wins!
Despite the lack of smiles, the boys had a blast!!
Not until I got home did I realize Jaden is the only one smiling in this picture.  I promise they had a good time!!!

Ice cream cake!  Jaden's favorite!!!

singing happy birthday

A great group of boys!  Jaden has amazing friends!
Of course, I knew all the boys that were invited, but it was the first time Ken had met any of them and he was amazed at how many jokers are in his class this year!!  He is amazed that their teacher can keep up with all their shenanigans!!!  But in the very next breath he said that while they all joke around and like to be silly, they listen well and are very respectful.  All in all, a good party full of good friends.  Happy 9th birthday sweet Jaden!!!


I haven't posted to my blog in forever and I still need to go through all the pictures we took on our amazing Czech Christmas trip with my parents, but I know that will take a while and I wanted to add some current pictures from a very busy week for us! 

This week was the ExxonMobil Qatar Tennis tournament and for the first time I was able to go to the players gala.  Somehow Ken has attended this every year, but I've never been his date.  I was excited to "dine" with the best tennis players in the world ... from a distance, behind a rope heavily guarded by security.  It was a very special moment (note the sarcasm).  So we didn't exactly "dine" with the players, but they were in attendance and we went with lovely friends and enjoyed a delicious meal.
left to right: David Ferrer (#7 in the world), Rafael Nadal (#5 in world), Qatari host, Novak Djokovic (#1 in world), Alistair Rutledge (ExxonMobil Lead Country Manager)

Dessert was a highlight of the evening ... looked like a tennis ball

crack it open to find a raspberry topped cream cake ... delicious!


The first night we attended, we took the kids to watch Nadal play Kuznetsov and a bit of Djokovich's match. I don't even know who Djokovic played since I spent forever in line getting snacks.  By the time I got back to our seats, they were ready to go home.  Such is the life of a parent.  The second night we attended was the semi finals and we opted to get a babysitter for the boys.  We watched the finals for the doubles and then we watch Nadel play Marchenko and Djokovic play Berdych.
We had great seats with the kids, but for the semi finals, we didn't know you had to arrive early to get the better seats (since it's an ExxonMobil event, we had complimentary corporate tickets, but seating preference was first come first serve).  So we ended up in the nosebleed section for the semi finals.  The air was a bit thin up there, but on the bright side, we could also keep an eye on our car from our seat!  Yes we were so high, we could see outside the stadium and see precisely where we parked!

The boys and I came straight after school so we wouldn't miss Nadel.  He's the boys favorite!  Ken met us there after he got home from work.

my boys!  So handsome!  Nicholas is always so great at smiling for the camera!!

Rafa's classic "butt pick" ... this is why he is the boys favorite!
He is either ridiculously superstitious or OCD (or maybe both), but he doesn't serve without first picking his butt, then tapping his left shoulder, then his right, then touching his nose, left ear, nose, right ear, with a swipe of the forehead somewhere in the middle.  It's hilarious to watch!!  The boys counted over 100 butt picks in one set a few years ago.  Of course his tennis isn't so bad either!!  Ranked second for the ExxonMobil Qatar Open ... and something like 5th in the world overall.  29 years old, made it to the finals 99 times, and has earned over $75M in prize money in his career.  With all that money, you think he could afford better underwear that doesn't give him a constant wedgie!

I enjoyed playing with our new zoom lens on the camera.  Rafael Nadal in all his serving glory!

action shot

And I love when the stars play with the kids after their match is over.


Doubles finals as seen from the nosebleed section.  Our car is parked just to the left of the stands opposite us.  Can you see it?  :-)

Novak Djokovic in action

Ready for the serve

Another great action shot

Berdych in action ... he played well against Djokovic ... an excellent match!

Love seeing sportsmanship played out in real life.  Berdych played a good match.

Djokovic wins the semi finals and ready to play Nadel tomorrow in the finals. 


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

School Pictures!

So I FINALLY got around to ordering the boys school pictures ... from last year!!!  OOPS!!  Somehow it slipped through the cracks and I completely forgot until they had their pictures taken for this year.  So I ordered prints from both years all at one shot ... at least it will make it easy to see their growth from last year until now.  :-)

Let's start with Nicholas ... can you tell which one is last year and which is this year?? 

If you guessed the one on the left (the first one) was last year, you were right!  But wow!  He barely changed!!!
Studious look...

Cool kid with his watch (he doesn't leave home without it!)
And now it's Jaden's turn...his will likely be easier to tell last year vs this year.
Those adult teeth sure make him look older!!  I was just glad the picture was taken before any more fell out!  He has lost 3 teeth since this picture was taken and his smile looks totally different.

Sexy pose??

Future blackmail picture.  Yes, Jaden can do the center splits and he proudly displayed his talent for the cameraman!!  Love you Jaden!!!


Saturday, November 7, 2015

World Robotics Olypiad - Doha

We had the best time at the World Robotics Olypiad this morning!  The competition was held here in Doha and there must have been over 200 teams from over 20 nations.  We saw some awesome robots and met the most amazing kids from around the world competing.  We were completely astounded!!!  And it was a free event (including a free lunch!  What??!!!  Only in Doha!).

This year's theme was "Robot Explorers" and the competitors were challenged to create robots to explore parts of the world where human exploration is difficult.  The elementary school teams created robots that would "dive for a pearl" (not really under water).  The junior high school created robots to hunt for treasure and the high school teams created robots that could "climb mountains."  There were also soccer matches and bowling teams.  It was great fun to watch!

Main stage with video screen showing competitions.  Each team had a white booth and the competition took place at the front and back tables. 

Event venue ... gold buildings were the "Souk" where the sponsors and robot enthusiasts had a booth.  We spent at least 2 hrs checking out all the cool robots in this area.
Bowling competition (it's hard to see the tiny little bowling pins in front of the black board).  The robot picked up the ball and rolled it down the floor to knock over the pins.  I think only college teams entered this part of the competition.  You can see the robots lined up on the right side of the picture.
 After arriving and getting a lay of the land, we explored the "souk" and had a blast watching and interacting with the robots on display!

Maersk Oil was a sponsor for the event and the boys loved looking at this Lego display of offshore drilling.  The glass case represented the water and the bottom was the ocean floor while the boats and drill rigs were above water.  A great display with Legos!

Some girl from the Netherlands built this shark from Legos and programed it to move around the table and turn/backup when it bumps the edge or the fish.  The girl couldn't have been more than 20 yrs old and this is a hobby for her!

The fish were remote controlled and the kids loved playing the game to keep the fish away from the shark!  Super fun!!

A guy from Canada built this robot ... does it look like ET??

The same Canadian also built this R2D2.  It took him a year to design and build.  He sent it via DHL to the competition and it arrived in pieces!  Took a team of 5 guys to put it together in 2 days for display at the competition.

Close up of R2D2

Ken's favorite was the Rubik Cube solver.  This man from the UK built a robot out of legos and programmed it with an iPhone to solve a Rubik cube in seconds.  It was amazing!!!  And apparently it's in the Guinness Book of World Records.  It took him 3 months to build and program.  There are some amazingly intelligent people in this world!  Inspiring!!  It solved one in less than 1.8 seconds.  Watch the video if you don't believe me!


 After the sponsors and robot enthusiasts booths, we walked through the student booths.  So many amazing creations, but I won't bore you with all of them.  Here were our favorites.

Team China created a robot that responds to human movement.  The high school student is wearing a suit and if he moves his right arm up, the robot will imitate the movement. 

This team from Malaysia let the boys play with their creation.  The robot was designed to maneuver over rocky terrain (over Nicholas' foot to demonstrate).

All eyes on the robot.

Another Malaysian team ... 10 and 11 year olds!!  Designed a robot that scans the earth is search of precious metals, feeds the information back to the computer along with exact GPS coordinates.  Then designed a drone to fly to the exact coordinates and take pictures (infrared and regular digital) of the area to confirm the location of the mineral.  Seriously??  At 10 and 11 years of age??!!!  It was CRAZY!!!  And they presented better than most college students!!!  Answering questions and explaining their process.  I was most impressed with this team!

Our final stop was with the virtual reality booths.  Jaden's first virtual reality game.  He had to "walk the plank."  He loved it!

This was a virtual welding machine in order to train people how to weld.  Brilliant!!