Saturday, October 27, 2012

See you in a week

We're off to Oman! But we'll be back, with stories to tell and photos to share. For now, a couple shots I've been enjoying...

Jeff and Kaiya cooking dinner together. She told me, "It's okay mom. You can rest today. I'll make dinner with dad."

I love this shot of the two of us. She's my sweet bear. My lower back gets so sore these days, and she often comes over, puts her little hands on the small of my back and starts rubbing. "Does that feel good, mom?" Oh, you have no idea how good.

She is colouring so much lately. Colouring and painting. Here she is in the beautiful afternoon glow of our dining room. Serious little artist.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Al Wakra Beach

Confession #1: This trip happened two weeks ago. You could say the work-life NON-balance (and my ever-tired pregnant body) are catching up with me.
Confession #2: While the company was wonderful, the beach left a lot to be desired.

Don't get me wrong. I love Al Wakra beach. We've been many times. But never on a Friday afternoon, and never during high tide. Friday afternoons, it turns out, bring crowds. One Landcruiser packed in beside the next. And high tides mean no private islands, one of the things we like best about Al Wakra. And the beach had a distinct odour to it this time around. Not entirely sure why. An odour which, as Darren said, would crescendo repeatedly. Made eating a strange smell/taste sensation.

But regardless, we were all pretty pumped to be outside, in the water and with sand between our toes. And I was so determined to get immersed that I walked the few kilometers it took till I could actually lie down and float.

Dean and fam

Pretty much the whole gang

Kaiya looking for treasures. She loves catching hermit crabs and watching them come out of their shells.

The only thing we miss about our old compound is the ability to see the sun setting out our kitchen window. If you click here and scroll to the end of the post, you'll see what we used to see. It wasn't the most fantastic view, no, but if I looked beyond the compound wall, I could see palm trees and the beautiful colours of the sunset. While we love our new location, the villas are tall, and we're smack in the middle of the compound. So we see a bit of orange between villas, and then suddenly, it's dark. So now we cherish each time we're out to see that beautiful desert glow.

We managed to walk far enough to find a little island just in time for the sunset:

Sunset. Need to see that beauty more often.

Eating dinner before heading home. The two preggos got the chairs. :)

I still really recommend Al Wakra for a day at the beach. It's close and convenient. But if you want to avoid the crowds, it's best to go in the morning/early afternoon. It was still far too hot for us to do so. But we're almost there... perfect Qatar weather will soon be upon us!

And if you want to hit low tide, check out one of the following sites (we for sure will next time):

or if you prefer graphs (I do):

And finally, for directions to Al Wakra beach (super simple), check out kooki's post.

Heading out to Oman tomorrow for our Eid holiday... can't wait!!!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Love, 4-year old style

Said by Kaiya last night, as part of her storytelling-at-bedtime routine:

"Today Billy said, 'I love you.' But I just rolled my eyes. So he said, 'I like you a lot. I like you just the way you are.' Billy ... he's a sweet guy."

She actually gushed while telling that story.

And never mind Billy. Then there's Jeffrey. I love that there's a little "Jeffrey" in her life. His eyes absolutely light up and sparkle every time she gets on the bus in the morning. It's the cutest thing to see. Kaiya regales us almost daily with stories about Jeffrey. About how he told her there's this special plant that has prickles all over it, and when zombies touch it ... they die.

Zombies? Does my girl even know what those are?

But the Jeffrey stories were taken to a whole new level tonight when Kaiya announced, just before dinner: "I kissed Jeffrey today!"
Mother (that's me): Um, erm, uhhhh... okay. Honey, where did you kiss him? (WHY did I ask that?)
Kaiya: All over!
Mother: (mostly amused, slightly concerned): All over? Where exactly?
Kaiya: On his cheek, and here (pointing to elbow) and here (pointing to knee)
Mother: And did he like it?
Kaiya: No. (one word: relief)
Mother: You know, a lot of boys probably don't want you kissing them right now. (Forgive me... what WAS I supposed to say?)
Kaiya: Ya, I know... Jeffrey's one of the boys who don't like it.

I later made fun of her when she mentioned sitting with him on the bus and said, "What's his name, mom?" I responded, poking her in the ribs, "How can you kiss a boy when you can't even remember his name?"

And so begins the learning of life's important lessons. Ha.

Oh Lord ... I'm holding on to 4 as tight as I can!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Population of Qatar

The following image made its rounds through social network circles a couple of weeks ago. I saw it a number of times, and even though it contains information I pretty much already knew, every time I saw it posted again, I found myself staring at it anew.

Click on it for a better view

I wrote an entire post about this image, but it got shelved. It felt... trite. And I'm still not entirely sure what I want to say about it. I could point out the fact that we're a part of that 7% minority, the "Other" category. And I could tell you how while I was prepared, upon our arrival, to face Qatari/Arab culture shock, I was in no way prepared for the vast numbers of people from India, the Philippines, Nepal, etc, etc. And I could tell you how I foolishly kept associating the term "expat" with "Western expat," wondering where they/we all were. Well, we're here, all 7% of us.

I could also tell you about how while we're "Other" here, we're still part of a very privileged other. An other blessed with choices, that came for adventure, for travel or career opportunities, because maybe jobs back home weren't that abundant or that good, or maybe we were just a little bored with the humdrum, same-old, same-old. An other that can spend vacation times travelling, that can afford dinners out and weekend fun. An other that for the most part, even with struggling home country economies, could probably still find a way to make it work "back home" in that massive expanse we call middle-class.

Or I could tell you about the Nepalis, Sri Lankans, Filipinos, Indians, etc, etc, ... most of whom comprise the "workers:" taxi drivers, nannies, store clerks, security guards, construction workers - so so many construction workers. Their sometimes questionable working and living conditions; their questionable rights. They have choices too, and they will tell you the 1000QR (or less) they make per month is still far more than they could ever make back home. And you'll see them standing in the Western Union lines come Thursday afternoon, sending every riyal they can afford back to their waiting families. Because they come without their families. They come for a better life, or at least for a better life for their children. And while they make their choices, there is no comparison to our choices. There is no "middle-class" lifestyle waiting for them back home.

Living here is definitely a multicultural, eye-opening experience. An opening to the way the rest of the world lives. It's a far cry from our very white and western Niagara upbringing. Even just a tiny peek into the world of all the workers from all these different cultures makes us think more carefully and appreciate more fondly the country we were born into and the comforts, even the small daily ones, we take for granted.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Beach + Horse = Good Weekend

Things are starting to cool down out here in the Gulf. Which really means life is starting to heat up. The next six months or so will see prime-time living out here... parks, playgrounds, picnics... all our favourite things. In the next couple weeks I want to start planting vegetables and herbs in our garden, to add to the grass and gorgeous bougainvillea that have kept blooming and blooming their bright pink blossoms. Just as friends and family back in Canada are starting to cozy up to their fall colours and sweaters, we're getting ready to break free from the constant drone of the a/c and spend as much of the next 6 months as we can OUTDOORS! I'm getting really excited!

My two weeks of sickness finally agreed to bugger off Wednesday, and as soon as they did I said, "Let's hit the beach!" And so after work Thursday we drove up to Fuwairit with friends, to meet some more friends. A sunset picnic, complete with a good soak in the salty sea was just what we all needed. Kaiya kept playing in the sand long after dark, convincing me it's time to look into some basic camping gear. You can just do that here... pitch a tent, right on the beach, and call it a night. I think we might just have to do that soon (although I reserve the right to flatten the seats in the Pathfinder and crash back there!)

Happiness is... pizza, sand, water...

I mean, how can you go wrong... just look at this view!

Let's do this again, okay guys?

Post-swim, taking in the last bit of light.

Friday morning saw us starting a new adventure - horseback riding. The Doha Mums' group, which I'm a part of, advertised lessons on their forum this week. And I didn't hesitate to add Kaiya's name to the list. Kaiya has a love of horses which I fear might make her a mini-Karen Epp. While we are thrilled with her excitement, we're also going to do our best to ensure she doesn't go buying herself a horse at the age of 16. We'll see how that goes...

I get happy every time I look at her smiles in these pictures. We have ourselves another horse lover!

The equestrian center we went to is right by Sheikh Faisal museum, and it was a surprise and a treat. A lot of beautiful horses, and a wonderful walk outdoors. Kinda sweaty, yes, but still great.

We found out the horse's name was "Maggie." Kaiya promptly renamed her "Maggie Sparkle." And she requested to always get to ride a white horse. The man leading the horse kept cracking up at her constant jibber-jabber. "Mom, this is really really fun. Mom, watch out... don't get hit by her tail! Mom, look at that funny horse's bum. Mom, can we do this again??"

Yep, we got ourselves one satisfied customer!

This evening, as I was packing lunches and getting ready for the school/work week, Kaiya tugged on my arm and said, "Mom, you said we get to go riding again on the weekend. Today's the weekend, but I didn't go!" Let's clarify, honey. That's one time every weekend. One time. We'll see you again next Friday, Maggie Sparkle.

Seriously... look at these landscapes! We live here!!?? So thankful.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Funny Girl

She cracks me up, the things she comes up with. While drawing this weekend, she created this little scene:

Along with the picture came this explanation:
"These flowers (pointing to the two on the left) are in Canada. These flowers (pointing to the two on the right) are in Qatar."

Clearly there is a lack of water in our desert home!