Thursday, December 15, 2011

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

I have not dared to wear the green sweater again. I am afraid of what might ensue. I was, however, winked at by another Qatari man on Saturday while grocery shopping. It seems the natives are friendly. I was wearing a red sweater at that time.

Interestingly, these winks never happen when I am in the company of my husband or my boisterous 3-year old.

No, the green sweater will not be accompanying us to Canada.


We've been getting into the Christmas spirit here. We bought a little tree (you can buy big ones too, don't worry) and even made our own dough ornaments this year.

I'm not the most relaxed person you'll ever meet (ahem). I'm not very good at sitting and playing. I'm generally just not very good at sitting and ... anything. But one category I excel in is moving and doing. So I'm so glad my daughter's now at the age where we can do fun things together. I can finally stop feeling guilty for not sitting on the floor and shaking a rattle in her face, or worse yet, playing My Little Pony with her.

I love her little hands. It's amazing to me how the feeling never goes away. When Kaiya was born, we took so much delight out of her little hands and fingers. We were thrilled every time her tiny, precious hand grabbed a hold of one of our fingers. And now, at almost four, I still feel the same. I still feel a rush of warmth every time she grabs my hand. I love that she gives me high fives, holds my hands to pray, and strokes my cheek to show tenderness.

And I am glad we share a love for working with our hands.

And Kaiya, in true taking-after-her-mommy fashion, takes all of her doing very seriously. She wants to do it all by herself, thank you very much, and she makes a mess, yes, but it's a fine mess, and she's happy to take responsibility for it, even if she doesn't really want to clean it up.

There's nothing quite like making Christmas ornaments in your ballerina tutu.
 Thankfully, we were able to benefit from the assistance of our brand-new "movable stick," purchased just that morning. And yes, that's a clover, crescent moon, and cherry blossom. They happened to be beside the large star at Daiso, the Japanese dollar store, and Kaiya insisted. We've never really been traditionalists around here...

Our final product: a tree covered in dough ornaments, crafts from the winter carnival, and a few odds and ends. At one point Kaiya said, "Let's put a Canada flag at the top of the tree!" And we finally decided it was time to draw the line. I mean, seriously.


Every December, the college hosts a lovely Holiday dinner at the Diplomat's Club in Doha. We get treated to a buffet-style feast with all the fixings: turkey, mashed potatoes, salads, cranberry sauce, scrumptious desserts, and hummus and pitas. What? Not a Christmas standard? Yes, every single buffet I've attended here (and there have been many) has included hummus and pitas. Well, all but one. And I was really excited about that one.

There were two sittings for the dinner. We went to the afternoon one, as it was the one meant for families, complete with caroling, Santa, and goody bags. It was a great experience of barely contained chaos. Kids were running, screaming, having tantrums, and generally not cooperating. It was wonderful. When people asked me later what I thought of the dinner, my main response was, "It was so good to see that everyone's kids are like that. We're normal!"

Well, mostly normal. :)

These guys have become best buddies at daycare.

Out in the courtyard, trying to get some pictures. Gotta love the fakey-fake smile.
And with dad, shortly before things started falling apart...

And Santa... did Kaiya get to sit on Santa's lap? Well, yes, she did. But when we finally got to the man in red after having waited in a long line, Jeff was mysteriously absent. Turns out he was outside, busy photographing someone else's family. Has yet to live that one down. Luckily, a colleague's husband saved the day, managing this shot:

I don't know how he did it. Kaiya was sticking her tongue out most of the time!

At the Christmas dinner, I was hit, quite forcefully, with the realization that the Epps are NOT going to have a nice Christmas picture this year. In fact, we may not have a nice family picture any time in the foreseeable future. Kaiya is in the "catch me if you can" phase, and my smile somehow lacks any genuine flair as I try to gently yet forceably pin her to my lap. And Jeff? Well, we all know Jeff is a little photo-challenged. We're just happy if he manages to stay still. There's a reason he's usually the one behind the camera (HE said it, not me!!)

So I present to you our "Christmas photo." (And if this picture ends up on that "Awkward Family Photos" site, I will not be impressed.)

So here we go. I'm slightly frazzled and totally pre-occupied with last minute details. At 3:45am we will be boarding a flight to Dubai and then Toronto. You read that right. 3:45am. This will either turn out to be a really smart or really, really dumb move. I'm hoping to get in bed with Kaiya at 7:30 tonight for even just a few hours of sleep. We're really looking forward to being surrounded by close friends and family for the next two weeks. Especially friends and family who watch Kaiya for a few hours here and there while we nap... Got that? ;)

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Is it really December??

Lest you think I've forgotten the blogging world, well, I haven't. I'm just getting silly excited over our trip to Canada, and most days my brain is in this awkward space somewhere between here and Niagara... possibly hovering above the Atlantic Ocean. You could say I'm feeling scattered... at best. And to think at work they're expecting some productivity out of me! Pshaw!

So in the spirit of being neither here nor there, I present to you a lot of pictures, and not so many words. Honestly, how many of you read my wonderfully thought-out stories, anyhow? I know how the Internet goes. Gloss over the pictures, and skim over the words. The carefully selected words. Sigh.... No matter.

Exhibit A: The Camel Races

We've only been once, but we're sure to go many more times. This little half-day trip rocked.

A trainer and his camel.

I love the angle and the colours of this shot.

Getting the camels ready for the race.

And they're off!

See that thing on his back? It's a robot jockey. The owners drive alongside the camels on a paved track, and they can control the jockeys remotely, making them whip those poor camels be-hinds!
We drove with all the owners on the outside track. Never seen so many Landcruisers all together. We were clearly expats in our Pathfinder. It was so exciting! I felt like we ourselves were in a race as we drove along with the camels. Many of the drivers honked their horns to encourage their camels to go faster. And yes, it was raining. Also very exciting.

The trainers are always ready to smile for the camera. 

Exhibit B: The Horse Races

Our pictures for this event aren't nearly as fabulous, and for more (and better) commentary on the event, you should probably see Tracie's blog. (She also includes a picture with THE biggest Jeff-smile I've ever seen!) Qatar Foundation, Jeff's employer, invited us all out. Free popcorn, light boxed dinner, pony rides, and a chance to see beautiful Arabian horses race.

Kaiya has no fear, once again. My girl loves animals.

Funky lighting. The sun was setting, but the lights were so bright it was like daytime. And notice the - GASP! - sweaters! Yes, it was cool.

They brought the horses around for us to check out each time before the races began. No betting though. Not allowed.

I was going to give you exhibits C, D, and E, but I think I'll save them for one more post... our last one before coming back to Canada for Christmas.

As usual, your comments and questions are more than welcome. Share the love, share the love.

Just a few more days, and I'll be done my swim through the Atlantic Ocean. :)