Friday, November 30, 2012

Beloved Radar

We've been in Doha for 6 months now and Nicholas still prays for Radar (our beloved family dog we had to leave behind) every single night.  Every night I hear, "...and please be with Radar that he likes his new family ..."  Breaks my heart we couldn't bring him with us, but Qatar doesn't allow his breed in the country. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012


For thanksgiving this year, I agreed to bring in a traditional American dessert to the boys' classrooms.  I made them each a pumpkin pie to share with their friends.  I hadn't realized that Nicholas only has a couple of American kids in his class and Jaden is the only American kid in his class.  Many of the children (and parents) had never had pumpkin pie before! 

Thanksgiving Day isn't a holiday here, so the boys went off to school and Ken went to work.  That evening, we joined many other ExxonMobil families in the clubhouse for a huge Thanksgiving feast.  It was potluck and everyone brought a dish to share.  There must have been 100+ people.  It was a huge spread and a lovely gathering.

Nicholas wanted to get dressed up for Thanksgiving dinner!
Aren't they so cute?!!  He was so proud of himself, I didn't
have the heart to tell him that tie is ENTIRELY too small!!!  :-)
The following day, I volunteered to help cook a traditional Thanksgiving meal to serve to a large group of American troops stationed here.  I was honored to help and I ended up making 4 more pumpkin pies and enough stuffing to feed 50-60 people. 

All in all, I made 7 pumpkin pies, sweet potatoes for 20, and stuffing for about 70 people.  It took nearly all week to make the pie crusts and bread crumbs for my effort.  I learned that next year, I should shop BEFORE I decide what to prepare!  I didn't know I wouldn't be able to find pre-made pie shells and pepperidge farm stuffing mix!!  :-)  I drove all over Doha looking for ingredients and then ended up making it all from scratch!  Surprisingly, it didn't take as long as I expected.  And everything turned out just fine.

Unfortunately, Jaden woke up on Friday morning with a 103F fever!  So after all that cooking, we didn't even get to enjoy the feast!!!  Ken delivered the food to the party and we spent the weekend at home.  Jaden was bummed to miss the party and even more upset to miss school today. Praying for a quick recovery for him!! We want everyone healthy before we leave for vacation on Dec 6...

Since we were stuck home all weekend, I decided to get a jump on holiday planning ... I got this idea from pinterest - an activity advent calendar.  Each day, the boys pull a message out of the envelop with a Christmas activity we can do together ... things include decorate Christmas tree, make Christmas cookies, watch Christmas movie, drink hot cocoa, etc, etc, etc.  I hope the boys enjoy it!! 

Monday, November 19, 2012

ExxonMobil Family Fun Day

The boys and I had a blast last weekend at the ExxonMobil Family Fun Day!!!  Unfortunately Ken had to work and couldn't enjoy his annual company party, but I didn't let it stop us from attending!!  I'm glad we went - it was amazing!!

The party was held on the beach at the Intercontinental Hotel.  Upon entry, the boys got pictures taken with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, a bucket of beach toys, and ExxonMobil bracelets and baseball caps.  I was given a great beach bag with sunscreen, a beach hat and a towel.

Boys with Mickey and Minnie Mouse at
ExxonMobil Family Fun Day at the Beach!
Then we proceeded to the kid zone where they boys could play carnival games (every attempt wins a prize), play on bounce houses, and have caricatures drawn. For the girls and moms, they also had stations for hair braiding, nail painting, and henna tattoos.

Jaden at the carnival games

Nicholas' turn - yes he's wearing 2 hats.
He had so much fun at the Family Fun Day, he didn't take
the ExxonMobil hat off for 3 days! 
He even slept in the hat!!

Snakes and Ladders lawn game

Huge speakers were everywhere playing music from the DJ stand on the beach. There was a massive food tent serving breakfast from 10-11 and then lunch from noon-3. There was even an alcohol hut for adult beverages! :-)

On the water were floating volleyball nets, trampolines, and slides.

Down at the beach with Doha skyline behind

They also played games on the beach like musical chairs, potato sack races, and held a dance contest. Jaden was so excited about the dance contest and he danced his little behind off for over 30 minutes!!!  It was the LONGEST dance competition for kids ever!!!  We were all pooped by the time they selected 5 kids as winners to dance on stage.  But they chose Jaden and he was so excited to get on stage!!!  I included a very short clip so you can see some of his winning moves!!

Jaden getting down on stage during the dance competition

5 winners of the dance competition.  Go Jaden!!
It was insanely fun!!!  I'm so glad we went!!!  Just wish Ken could have come along... he missed a great party!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Winter clothes

It has officially started cooling down in Doha.  The weather was glorious while my mom was visiting, but it went right back to the mid-90s after they left.  This past week has been fantastic!!  Highs in the mid-80s and down to the 70s at night.  How crazy am I to start pulling out the winter clothes??  The breezes in the evenings feel downright chilly to me!  I want a long sleeve shirt and jeans and it's only the 70s!!!  I would NEVER survive in Wisconsin anymore!!!

Mom & Pam's Visit - final posting

Last posting about my Mom and Aunt Pam's visit to Doha ... promise!

After the camel races, the tour driver took us to an "Oryx Farm."  The oryz is the national animal for Qatar.  I'm not big on animals, but I think it's in the antelop family.  It's a beautiful desert creature - like a big black and white deer with 2 straight horns a top it's head - that has pulled itself out of the endangered category, but just barely.

I thought we would see beautiful oryx's roaming in a natural habitat.  Boy was I wrong.  It was the saddest little zoo you could imagine.  Poorly fed, poorly cleaned, poorly cared for animals in tiny cages.  They were filthy, smelly, malnourished, diseased, and skittish animals.  They even had dogs in cages.  Oh those poor dogs!!!  I can't even post any pictures because it just breaks my heart.
Feeding the camel at the zoo
After the sad little zoo, we stopped by a museum that was just amazing!!!  Wish we had more time to spend going through this private collect of the Emir's uncle.  It was really fantastic!!  Armor, swords, guns, cars, boats, airplanes, jewelry, houses, furnishings, art work ... you name it, this guy collects it!!!  He even has a currency collection with nearly every currency in the entire world from the beginning of time until present.  Apparently he adds to his collection weekly!!  Can't even begin to guess the value!!  It was amazing!!!
Exterior of the museum
And finally, here are a few more random pictures from Mom's visit ...

Qatar flag

boys at soccer practice

Souq Waqif in the day time

The Pearl
 (high end shopping and apartments on the harbor full of yachts)

Boys at the Pearl

Mom & Pam's Visit - Camel races

So the camel races weren't exactly what we were expecting, but it was still incredible to see.

A tour driver picked us all up on a Saturday afternoon and headed out of town to the camel race track.  Along the way, we passed the Emir's house.  Maybe someday, we'll be invited for tea.  Okay, probably not, but it was neat to catch a glimpse of his massive compound.

We arrived at the tracks to see several small groups of camels being led to the tracks for the races.  Little packs of camels were everywhere!  I never dreamed there would be so many camels!!  Thousands and thousands of camels ... craziness!!  The camels are herded into the starting gates (nothing sophisticated, just some poles and canvas), then the canvas is manually raised and the camels are off.

Boys in front of camel prep area


Camels being led to races

On your marks ... Get Set ....


There are no stands to sit and watch the races. The owners (and the fans) drive in their cars along side the camel track. They used to have small children ride the camels as jockeys, but after several children fell off camels and were stampeded and killed, they no longer allow human jockeys on the course. So now, the owners/trainers have a walkie talkie to communicate sounds and clicks to the camels wearing some kind of device with a speaker. There is also a radio controlled paddle to nudge the camel in the direction of the finish line.

Owner communicating commands to camel through the walkie talkie while driving!!  Look out on the roads!!!

Camels racing with cars following beside them. 
(These Land Cruisers are in the VIP lane and the one in front was the Emir's son)

The ruling family hosts the games on the weekends, 3 weekends per month from October - March. I don't know how many races per day, maybe a dozen or more. Camels are brought in from all over the middle east to race - Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, etc etc. The first 10 camels to finish in each race wins a brand new Toyota Landcruiser and 150,000 QAR (roughly $40,000). No wonder camels are brought in from all over to race! 10 camels per race times at least 12 races per day times 2 days per weekend times 3 weekends per month times a 6 month racing season ... that's A LOT of prizes!!!  All from the government.  No entry fee, no endorsements, no wagering, just gifts from the government to the top 10 camels in every race.

End of the race track ...

These camels have finished their races for the day.

Resting camels
Not a great picture, but can you tell this guy is talking on his cell phone while riding a camel?!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Mom & Pam's visit - Dunebashing

Are you tired of our "stay-cation" stories and pictures?  Hope not because I still have more to share!!

After our stay at the Sealine Resort, we arranged for a tour guide to pick us up and take us out into the desert.  We drove up and down the sand dunes with views of the Arabian Sea most of the way.  Before we took off, we had to deflate our tires. 
Driver (Achmed) deflating the tires

While Achmed was deflating the tires, we took more pictures with the camels.

Driving in the sand felt a little like driving in the snow ... the car slides at times and you have to just go with it.  Sometimes it felt like a roller coaster, sometimes it seemed like we would roll over on our side.  I wish I had taken video clips of some of the first steep inclines ... it was crazy!  Crazy fun!!  The boys thought it was a blast, but I'm not so sure about my mom and my aunt.  There were moments of fear, but after safely down the incline and a huge sigh of relief, it was fun!   

At one point, we caught up with another tour car, so I was able to take some pictures.  We were also in a white Toyota Land Cruiser.  (It's the preferred vehicle for Qatari people.)

Typical shot driving across the desert
Hard to capture just how steep it is...

The boys wanted a picture with Achmed

It doesn't get much prettier than this in the desert

What a good looking family!  :-)

Even better looking extended family!

Boys chasing a desert lizard

Not sure why I find this so pretty, but there's
something about the ripples in the sand that I like

Beyond the inland sea is Saudi Arabia (looks almost mountainous)

Where the sea meets the sand...

Sisters survived the dune bashing and enjoyed the view!

Thanks Achmed for a fantastic trip!!
And here are a couple of very short videos:


Mom & Pam's visit - Sealine Resort

Still catching up with all the stories from my mom and Aunt Pam's recent visit ...

Sealine .... Sealine .... what to say about Sealine?

Ken and I thought it would be nice to take a mini retreat in the middle of the week while mom was here and hit a hotel resort right on the beach.  We had heard nice things about Sealine, about 1 hr south of Doha.  We booked 2 rooms for 2 nights.  We were advised that upon checkin we would have to present a copy of our marriage certificate in order to share a room with each other.  Crazy! 

We arrived a little early and our rooms weren't quite ready so we explored the grounds of the hotel ... beach front, several pools, camel rides, jet skis, one of those big inflatable bouncy slides and play area, etc, etc.  All looked good!
Arriving Sealine Resort
The boys were enjoying the pools and inflatable toys with Ken while I went back inside to check into our rooms.  Check in took a while and when I came back outside, it was chaos.  Apparently the wind had picked up and those silly inflatables weren't tied down in any way!!!  The wind literally picked up the entire inflatable, turned upside down, dumped the kids to the ground, and trapped them underneath. 
Picture of the inflatable at night...
Jaden and Nicholas were traumatized!  Jaden could barely blink he was in such shock.  Jaden had bumped his head and Nicholas complained of his leg hurting.  When I set him down to walk, he couldn't support his weight on his right leg.  Paramedics came and thought they looked okay, but to be safe, took us to a nearby medical clinic via ambulance. 

Jaden thought it was pretty cool to ride in an ambulance for the first time!

The medical clinic checked all their vitals and all seemed okay.  Nicholas had a pulled hamstring and Jaden seemed fine.  They gave us the equivalent of children's tylenol and sent us home.  Told us to watch for dizziness, confusion, and vomiting with Jaden due to head injury, but we all thought it was nothing.

We headed back to the resort laughing about the "magic carpet ride."

Boys were exhausted after their ambulance ride to the medical clinic.

That night, getting ready for bed, Jaden said he head hurt really bad.  He was crying and was in a considerable amount of pain.  We tried giving him the Tylenol, but he started vomitting all over the hotel room.  Back into the car and this time, all the way back to Doha's Hamad Hospital Emergency Room.

The hospital has separate entrances for men and women.  There was a door for families, but it was under construction and we were told to enter through the women's entrance.  I checked Jaden in and they took us straight back to a room.  Ken was told he had to remain in the waiting room and couldn't enter.  Women only.  The emergency room was pretty busy, but a doctor saw us relatively quickly.  He too didn't think it was anything serious ... by this time, Jaden was no longer feeling bad at all.  But we both thought it would be best to get a CT scan just in case.  They took us to another room to wait for the CT scan.  I was so turned around, I had no idea where Ken was sitting anymore.  No clue how to get news back to him.  We had left his cell phone with my mom at the resort so we could keep her posted.  So I didn't know how to contact Ken.  A security guard agreed to go find him and update him.  The security guard proceded to sneak Ken into our waiting room.  Yeah!  Together!

Waiting for the CT and then waiting for the results took FOREVER!!  The "room" was a curtain drawn around Jaden's bed with about one foot of space on one side.  And it was FREEZING!!!  Jaden stayed awake the whole time...couldn't believe it!!  I fell asleep, but not Jaden.  Crazy kid!  Just like his daddy!  Results of the scan showed all was fine, so they sent us home.  We drove back to the resort at 3am!  It was a LONG night!!!
Jaden is amazing!  He's always so happy, even waiting for
hours in a freezing cold room for his CT scan.
Next morning, Jaden acted like nothing happened the night before.  We played on the beach all day. Ken rented a jet ski and took the boys out.  It was great except for the jelly fish!!
Boys on the jet ski

View from our room

While the boys were on the jet ski, mom, pam, and I waded out in the ocean until the water was up to our shoulders.  It was a beautiful day and we were enjoying watching the boys on the jet ski.  I felt a little sting on my wrist and thought it felt an awful lot like a jelly fish sting, but it was minor.  We stayed in the water.  I felt a couple more little stings and asked mom and Pam if they felt any.  Pam had, but not mom.  We stayed in the water.  Mistake.  Whack!  Big sting on my left foot.  Before I could say anything ... whack!!  A bigger sting on my right calf.  We haul ourselves out of the water and immediately ask for vinegar.  The vinegar worked like a charm on the smaller stings, but did nothing for my calf.  I've never had such a big jellyfish sting!  It hurt like crazy!!!!!!!!!

Can you see the jelly fish sting?  I should have taken a picture
the next day when it turned dark red like a burn! 
It's still slowly fading away 2 weeks later!!
 After we all took an afternoon nap, we decided to ride the camels before dinner.  The pictures look like it's late, but it gets dark really early here ... the sun sets around 4:30 or 5pm.  The boys rode togheter ... so cute to see Nicholas clinging on to Jaden.  It was a bit wobbly getting up and down, but the ride was pretty smooth.  I rode alongside the boys, but no one else wanted to ride.  Can't believe I couldn't get my mom and my Aunt up on a camel!!  Not like you have a lot of chances to ride a camel!!! 

Boys getting up on the camel

Camel ride down the beach

Boys loved the camel ride!

More stories to come of Mom & Pam's visit ... still need to blog about the dunebashing and the camel races!!!  Another time, I have to go get Jaden from the school bus...