Saturday, September 29, 2012

School Bus

My children never cease in providing stories to share on the blog...

Since Jaden has had a bit of a hard time adjusting to school (remember the hiding under the table story?), I haven't forced him to ride the school bus.  For whatever reason, he wants me to drive him to school and then he likes to ride the bus back home.  Traffic is a nightmare in the mornings and after dropping off Jaden, I still have to take Nicholas to his school ... all together, it's a 2 hour round trip for me every morning.  I've tried convincing myself that I don't mind, but let's be honest, I'm so ready for Jaden to ride the bus in the morning!!!

Tomorrow is the first time that I have someplace to be and I can't take him to school.  He will have to ride the bus -- and he is TERRIFIED!!!  I have absolutely no idea why he is so scared since he rides the very same bus home every day, but he is.  We've tried everything we can think of to calm his nerves, but he is a bit of a basket case. 

I encouraged him to practice last week and he agreed to try it on Wednesday morning.  He was nervous for sure, but we made it all the way to the bus stop at the club house.  He climbed on the bus and got situated.  All seemed fine - I was crazy proud!  I started visiting with some of the other moms, waiting for the buses to roll away, when I saw the bus monitor wandering around with Jaden's backpack.  What??  I approached and a bunch of moms are shouting, "Jaden ran off!  Jaden ran off!"  I run inside the clubhouse to find the little guy crying uncontrollably in one of the chairs.  Somehow, he managed to get unbuckled, sneak past the monitor, blow past me and all the other moms and safely park himself on a clubhouse chair.

Suffice it to say, I drove him to school.  Tomorrow we try again, except I have plans, so he really has to do it this time.  Pray for him!!! 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Grocery shopping

So my favorite part of grocery shopping (after getting past the shock of the grand total), is looking at my receipt to see what was the most expensive item I bought.  With my vegan diet, I occasionally buy rather obscure products, but these never seem to be the most expensive.

When I first arrived, I was in utter shock over the price of yellow squash (nearly $10 for 1 yellow squash!), but then I learned that green squash was a bit cheaper ... I'm still on the hunt for a local alternative.

My second trip to the grocery store I paid nearly $15 for a cantaloupe.  (I have since found Saudi Sweet Melon ... a white version of cantaloupe and even sweeter ... for a fraction of the cost.)

Cucumbers were another shock until I found the local cucumbers, a bit smaller than the typical ones in the states (more like the size of a pickle), but just as tasty.

One week, a small bunch of fresh spinach was randomly the most expensive item (even more expensive than a bottle of organic agave nectar).

This week it was raisins?!  what?!!  Raisins are in everything here ... why were raisins so expensive??!!  Oh yeah, out of habit, I grabbed the Sun Maid brand.  Oops!  Got to go local if you want reasonable prices!

My second favorite part of grocery shopping is that for roughly $4, someone will wash your car in the parking lot while you shop.  Bargain!  It's only an exterior wash, but it gets all the desert dust off the car ... well worth $4/week!!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Driving and Parking in Doha

I could share endless stories about driving and parking in Doha!  There is a lot of traffic in this city as the population has far surpassed the design of the roads.  Slowly but surely many of the turning circles are being converted to include signal lights and a few even have the U-turn lanes I grew to love in Houston!  This definitely helps a bit, although the traffic signals take FOREVER to turn green!!! 

For the most part, drivers are aggressive and selfish ... particularly the Qataris.  They clearly feel entitled to the road.  If they come up behind you, they flash their lights and expect you to get out of the way ... immediately.  While there are heavy fines for speeding and other traffic violations, they do not apply to Qatari people, and their driving shows it!  They have no trouble making their own lane, driving on sidewalks, and NEVER let you in!  There is NO courtesy when driving here!  At first it drove me crazy, but I've gotten much better about not reacting to all the rudeness on the roads.  It seems to help to always expect to be cut off and never let in to the flow of traffic, then you're not offended and it's a wonderful surprise to find someone polite on the road.

Parking is clearly an afterthought here and many places just don't have adequate parking.  The parking lot at Jaden's school is a sight to be seen!!!  It's an unpaved lot, but it's level and graded for parking.  Lots of fine sand and rocks.  People attempt to park in an orderly fashion even without the use of parking lines painted, but once the obvious "spots" fill up, people park their cars any where they can. 

I arrived early one day and was excited to get a spot close to the school, only to find out I was trapped for 20 minutes before I could leave.  There were cars parked perpendicular in front and behind me. 

Yesterday, after dropping Jaden off for school, I returned to my car to see another mom getting her kids out of her car parked behind me and another car, completely blocking us in.  The lady next to me was also trying to leave and told her she couldn't just leave her car blocking us in, we wanted to get out.  So the mom moved her car ~5 feet so she wasn't blocking her, but she was still blocking me!  I said the same thing, you can't just leave you're car there.  Mind you the lot was emptying and there were ample legitimate places she could have parked.  But instead she tells me, "Can't you see, I'm late.  I'm not moving my car again!"  I said, but I have places to be too.  So she says, "then you move my car."  I promptly got in her car (which she had left running - very common here) and moved her car to a proper parking place.  I couldn't believe it!  I almost wished I had thought of parking her car in an obscure place where she couldn't find it, but I was nice. 

It's happened at a bookstore once too ... I parked my car and a Qatari man pulled in immediately next to me, but at an angle.  I could barely squeeze out of the car, but the boys literally had 3 inches of space between their door and his.  They had to get out on the other side of the car.  Then when we came out of the store, once again a car was parked (and running) perpendicular behind me and we had to wait for them to finish their shopping and come out to move their car...luckily we only had to wait a few minutes.

I wonder if it's always okay to just move the car out of the way.  Is that why they leave them running??  What would happen if they come out while I'm moving their car?  Would I go to jail for car theft??  This is why we just sit and wait. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


So I found out what this building is today.  It's the FANAR or the Qatar Islamic Cultural Center.  It's a non profit organization that "motivates society to become more informed about Islam."  Fanar is a Qatari word meaning "flourescent floodlight mounted on a high tower."  Which if I'm not mistaken, translates to "lighthouse."  Not sure why they don't just say, "Fanar means lighthouse," but I haven't been "motivated to become more informed about Islam" just yet.  :-)

All joking aside, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the FANAR this morning.  I went with a small group of women to a cultural seminar held there once a month.  Today's topic was "Introduction to life in Qatar."  It was very much like the class ExxonMobil offers to new expats ... a brief overview of the Qatari culture.  I would definitely return for future seminars which include more deails regarding food, clothing, weddings, etc.  They served both traditional Arabic tea and hot sweet tea during the presentation ... both unique, not sure which I preferred.  The Arabic tea was a very different flavor and was very fragrant.  The sweet tea was crazy sweet - like Sonic or Chic-fil-A in Houston, but served hot.  The presentation was given by a young Qatari women who spoke perfect English.  She did a great job introducing Qatar - both the history and the present day Qatar - even the correct pronounciation of Qatar!  :-)  After the presentation, they offered a large spread of snacks and drinks.  I wasn't expecting a free lunch, so it was fantastic all around!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Temperature is coming down (maybe)

Praise the Lord, the temperatures DO fall under 100F in Doha!!!  The high today is only 99!!!  Not to worry, it's back up to triple digits tomorrow, but this is a first double digit day for me since I've been here.  I counted on the calendar and I've been in Doha for 98 days ... each and every one has been 100F or higher.  Looking forward to "winter." 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

From the mouth of babes...

Picked up Nicholas today and learned he had a FANTASTC day at school.  The teacher was very pleased to see him start to come out of his shell and he was so proud of himself for building houses for all the animals out of blocks.  We got in the car and he says, "Know how I did it Mommy?  I pwayed."  We're still working on our r's.  :-)  During our bible time this morning, we talked about how when we feel scared or unsure, we can pray, and God will hear us and help us to be brave.  Just when you think your kids never listen to you, they surprise you!  Today was a nice surprise!  He was listening and God did answer his "pwayer".

And from the mouth of Jaden today came ... "Mommy, I really miss our friends back in Texas."  To which I replied, "me too, baby, me too."

Monday, September 10, 2012


The boys started karate last week ... definitely more excitement over the start of karate than the start of school!!  I think Nicholas was born for Karate.  He is so cute running around practicing all of his punches, blocks, and kicks!!  The karate classes are held on our compound, so it's crazy convenient!  The instructor was especially impressed with Nicholas' attentiveness.  He didn't miss a thing!  Jaden did awesome in the class too!!

Ready for class!
First class ... practicing punches 
and blocks ... 
So excited to get their first "Gi" (Karate Outfit)!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

First week of school

We are officially wrapping up our first week of school.  What a week!  TGITh!  To say the boys were nervous would be an understatement of the century.  Pure fear and trepidation was more like it.  Zero on the excitement level.  I knew it would be hard for the boys after a very secluded summer with little interaction with other kids here.  I expected a lot of separation anxiety, but I didn't expect the effect the stress would have on me.  I was completely ill prepared for the physical toll it had on me.  I feel like I've been run over by a truck!  Migraines that left me barely functional for two days plus neck, shoulder and back pain equal to a rigorous workout where you can barely lift your arms over your head -- all from stress!!

So we kicked off the week with meet the teachers.  We met Nicholas' teacher, Ms. Sonia, on Sunday morning and then we met Jaden's teacher, Ms. Catharine, on Sunday afternoon.  Both teachers are AWESOME!!!  I can't say enough about either one of them!  I am confident the Lord has placed us in the hands of truly fantastic teachers.  The boys enjoyed their time in their classrooms, but they were very much at ease knowing that brother and mom stayed in the room the entire time. 

Jaden started school on Monday.  He wasn't ready to ride the bus and I'm not inclined to force the issue.  Drop off went as expected ... lots of tears, lots of reluctance to say good bye.  There was a new parent orientation immediately after drop off, so I promised to check back on him after the meeting.  By the time the orientation was over, Jaden was settled in his room and reasonably content.  He was happy to see me at the end of the day and was incredibly talkative about his day - a great sign!!  He even made a friend, but couldn't remember her name.
Jaden and Ms. Catharine on the first day of school - pre-tears.  :-)

Nicholas ready for his first day of school...

Nicholas didn't start school until Tuesday... I dropped off Jaden first and it went marginally better than day one ... still tears, but no sobbing.  I think it helped knowing that Tuesday's are half days at Jaden's school.  The entire school is dismissed at 12:30 and the teachers work collaboratively every Tuesday afternoon.  Then it was off to Nicholas' school.  As expected, he was reluctant and nervous, but thanks to his lovey and puppy, he was able to hug me goodbye and join the circle without any tears!!  Big success!!!   Immediately following Nicholas' drop off, there was a new parent orientation at his school. By the time it was over, I only had about an hour before I had to go pick up Jaden.  By pick up I was pooped, but Jaden was happy and told me his friend's name is Dennis (a girl).  Nicholas' teacher said he was quiet and reserved, but never cried.  He too made a friend, named Ryan.

That brings us to Day 3.  Jaden's drop off was stressful for him, but no tears.  And he bravely wanted to ride the bus home!!  Yeah!!!  When I met him at the bus stop, he informed me he cried a lot during recess today.  Breaks my heart to share this story ... it's so sad.  Apparently they have indoor recess in the hallways at school until the temps cool down outside.  The very large hallways are set up with several playstations and multiple KG classes play together all at one time.  Jaden's friend Dennis wanted to play with the dolls, but he didn't want to.  He didn't know who or what to play with and there were so many children and so much noise that he just broke down.  He hid under a table and cried until one of the teachers found him.  I don't know how long he was under the table, according to Jaden it was "a medium amount of time."  We talked a lot about feeling scared and unsure and what we can do different next time we feel that way.  I assured him it's very normal and okay to feel like that and also told him that the other kids probably feel the same way.  The teacher also sent me an email explaining what she knew of the situation and the discussion she had with him too.  I know that he will make friends and do really well, but the image of my little man hiding under a table crying through recess is almost more that this momma can take!!  It breaks my heart.

Nicholas doesn't have school on Wednesdays so he was a happy little guy all day yesterday.

Today is our first full day of school for both boys.  Jaden's drop off was still stressful, but no tears.  Nicholas was the same.  I pray they both have a good day ... I could use a minor success before the weekend.