Thursday, May 23, 2013

Nicholas' Mandarin Program

I finally got the video from Nicholas' language concert last month!!! His school offers French, Spanish, Mandarin, and of course, Arabic. We chose to have Nicholas in Mandarin and he loved teaching us new words! It was a rather small class and several of the children are quite young, but Nicholas and his friend Molly really shine in the songs. Molly held the microphone and Nicholas wore the little speaker. Enjoy the video!


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Bad day behind the wheel

So I got my first speeding violation today - inside my compound!!  They started to crack down on speeding in an effort to keep our kids safe as many of them play in the streets.  I'm all for enforcing the speed limit and have no issues with my warning.  I was driving over the posted speed limit.  But how crazy that my first violation in Qatar was for speeding and I was driving ... 15 miles per hour!!  The posted speed in our compound is 9 miles per hour.  Do you know how hard it is to drive under 9 miles per hour??  Most cars idle faster than that!  But I digress, time to be more careful of my speed - time to drive with one foot on the brake!

Meanwhile, on my way home from Bible study today, I was stopped at a red light when the man in front of me jumped out of his vehicle, walked over to the car next to him, opened his door and started screaming at him!!  He jumped back in his vehicle when the light turned green but was clearly still agitated.  He refused to allowed any of the merging traffic in front of him (very common here) and stayed so close to the car in front of him that he he ran into him!!  The accident caused unbelievable traffic that took forever to get around.  I have no idea why this man was so angry, but I pray his day gets better.  Sadly this is all very normal for the roads in Doha .... And I got a warning for speeding while going 15 miles per hour!

Lesson of the day... Drive with one foot on the brake inside my compound and keep the doors locked everywhere I go!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother’s Day Weekend

What a blessed weekend we had!! We celebrated Ken's birthday on Thursday night. The kids have been begging us to get a babysitter, so it was perfect time for a date night. We tried a Greek restaurant at the Intercontinental Hotel. It's strange to eat out at the hotel restaurants, but if you want a beer or glass of wine with your meal, it's the only option here. I had to take a picture of Ken's beer - it was HUGE!!! Happy birthday my love!! After dinner, we walked along the beach and found a bench where we could see the ocean and the Doha skyline, it was a lovely night.

Our compound held a garage sale on Friday morning, so after we got home from church, I wandered around and picked up a few things. The boys favorite is the new bouncy water slide for the back yard. We set it up right away and they had a blast!!!


Then on Saturday, we celebrated Mother's Day by going to the Ritz for traditional afternoon English tea. The boys wanted to get dressed up for the occasion -- Jaden put together a rather handsome look. Nicholas cracked me up - he wore a tie with his shorts and crocs!! We had a great time - the boys loved the three tiered tray of little sandwiches, desserts, scones, and fruit. The china was beautiful - and we poured sprite into tea cups for the boys. It was a perfect Mother's Day treat!!

Mother's Day at the Ritz

Setting the table for traditional English tea

A serious game of "Sponge Bob" after our tea. Nicholas will make a great poker player ... sunglasses and all!!

No idea what the rules are for this "game," but you have to keep your eye on Jaden. He changes the rules on every play to ensure he wins. He has to be careful though - Nicholas is starting to catch on!

Friday, May 3, 2013

We're coming to America

Got a dream to take us there
We're coming to America
Got a dream we've come to share
We're coming to America

We're coming to America
We're coming to America
We're coming to America
We're coming to America


We booked our tickets for the summer and I can't seem to get this song out of my head!!

We arrive in Houston on Thursday June 20.  Ken flies back to Doha on Sat Jul 6.  The boys and I fly to St. Louis on Tues July 9 and return to Houston on Tues July 30.  The boys and I return to Doha on Sat Aug 4.  All in all, it's 3 weeks in Houston and 3 weeks in St Louis for me and the kids...2 weeks in Houston for Ken.  Did I lose you yet?

Bottom line is:  if you want to see ken, you have to catch us in Houston June 20-July 6.  The boys and I will be in Houston June 20-July 9 and again Aug 1-4.  The boys and I will be in St. Louis July 9-30.

We're looking forward to seeing family and friends and hoping to catch up with as many people as possible while we're in the states.  We also want to get in some shopping and eat at all our favorite restaurants - the boys can't wait to eat at Chick-fil-A and their "favorite bean restaurant" (Spring Creek BarBQ) ... I can't wait to sink my teeth into Free-birds and a black bean burger from Smash Burger!!! Oh the things we miss... :-) We are all super excited to see friends and family!!!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Reflecting on life in Doha

Life has definitely gotten more busy in the last couple of months.  I think I have finally completely adjusted to our new lives here.  It certainly took me longer than I expected!  Ken and the boys adjusted much faster than I did - but Ken had his work and the boys had their schools and after school activities.  What did I have?  A new start for sure! 

I've been reflecting a lot about my first year here and wondering what am I going to tell people this summer when they ask "what is Doha like?"  I'm really giving it some thought and hoping that someday I'll be able to share them here on this blog.  For now, it's just a scrambled up mish mash of notes on a post-it (really a pad of paper, because post-its are hard to find here, but you get the idea).  Things I've jotted down are - crazy driving, amazing diversity, compassion I didn't know I possessed, drawing closer to the Lord, lessons upon lessons from the book of Acts, ... like I said, I'm working on it with the hope to share in the future.  God has definitely stretched me and shaped me as a result of my time here and it's only been 1 year.  We still have another ~ year and a half to go.  I can't even image what's in store!

So back to life getting busy around here... enjoy the stories and pictures!

Nicholas had his pre-school assessment at the American School a few weeks ago.  I was shocked by the sheer volume of children.  He was one of maybe 25 kids assessed in a group and there were multiple groups of children.  They accept ~120 children in pre-school and it’s VERY difficult to secure a spot.  ExxonMobil is one of the main sponsors of the school and so we get moved to the top of the list.  Otherwise, we probably wouldn’t get into the school.  It’s a crazy good school which is why there are wait lists for every grade every year.  So they took Nicholas into a large room with the other children for the assessment.  Parents aren’t allowed inside.  He came out all smiles and when I asked him what did you do he said, “just some puzzles.”  Me:  “were they hard?”  Nicholas:  “no, they were easy peasy!  I think they were hard for the other kids, but not for me, because I’m so smart!”  I laughed and laughed!!!  I think maybe we’ve told our children a few too many times how smart they are … maybe we need to work on teaching humility!  So funny!  After the assessment, I treated Nicholas to a date with mommy – he chose McDonald’s and the little roller coasters at the Jungle Zone.  (Side note - we already got our acceptance to ASD for next year, so the boys will be in the same school!  Yeah!!!)

Nicholas' favorite ride at the Jungle Zone ... after his pre-school assessment

More rides at the Jungle Zone ... Nicholas ALWAYS picks the blue vehicle.

The following week, Jaden had a day off school for teacher conferences.  That same day, Nicholas had a foreign language concert at school (Nicholas is learning Mandarin).  Jaden was invited to a friend's house to play and I asked him which he wanted to do?  Play at your friend's house or go to Nicholas' concert?  His response was SO SWEET!!!  I adore my children!!  He thought for just a second and said, "I want to go to Nicholas' concert because I can always have a play date with my friend, but Nicholas' concert only happens this one time." 

So Jaden and I spent the morning doing a bit of shopping, riding the rides at the Jungle Zone and then headed off to Nicholas' concert.  It was a perfect morning ... until traffic!!!  I was SO MAD!!!  We left early to make sure we would get a seat for the concert and had PLENTLY of time under normal circumstances ... even gave myself extra time because you never know what the traffic might throw you in this city (they often shut things down without any advance notice).  It's generally a 15 minute drive to his school.  I gave us 35 minutes to get there ... it took us 40 minutes to get through 1 stinking round about!!!  I was SO FRUSTRATED!!!!  We missed Nicholas' part of the concert - he had gone first.  Jaden and I were both in tears!!!!  The teachers are still working on getting me a copy of the video so we can see it.  Everyone said he did AMAZING!  I have no doubt.  I'll share the video when I get it.  Here are a few pictures from the day...

I think Jaden is getting a bit too big for these little rides, but he was a good sport and still seemed to enjoy it

Jaden's favorite ride - drops you from the ceiling.  You can see these places are never very crowded.  We could ride the rides over and over again.  No other children in sight.

Nicholas after his concert with his teacher Ms. Sonia

Nicholas and Jaden after the concert

Nicholas with his Mandarin teacher Ms. Ray

Other than these big events, we've been busy with playdates and entertaining at our house.  I'm embarrassed to say we just had our first dinner party last weekend.  I still can't believe it took me so long to want to have guests.  We ALWAYS had people over to our house back in Houston.  We loved using our house for church functions, stamping parties, ladies nights, children's play dates, dinner with friends,  .... any reason to have people over was good enough for me.  It was nice to start that here.  Better late than never right?

 Alright ... time to head to school.  I volunteer in Jaden's class on Thursdays and have to run.  Have a very blessed weekend - I'll be attending a women's retreat this weekend and can't wait to hear the message.  The guest speaker came to our weekly bible study yesterday and she is AMAZING!!!!!