Friday, June 28, 2013

Baby Izzy, 5 Months Old

What a wonderful month. Our contented baby is ever more content, sharing smiles with everyone she meets... so long as mom is in sight. So much is changing and so fast. She grabs for toys, stares at her hands in amazement, and regularly snacks on her toes. She flips from tummy to back, and as of Tuesday, from back to tummy.

Naps are a little scattered and unpredictable, as is her bedtime routine. But what matters most, and remains unchanged is the wonder of her sleeping through each and every night. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: God bless sleeping babies!

Daddy joins us tonight, and I know he'll say how different she is. Just two weeks and oh so different. We can't wait to have him here to join in on all her quiet giggles.

Little baby dinosaur

Thursday, June 27, 2013

We are enjoying...

Two weeks in and we are enjoying. Enjoying the relaxed, slow-me-down pace of Niagara. Of slow car trips without honking. No tailing, no passing on the right shoulder, or on on-ramps. My peripheral vision is getting lazy again. I bite my tongue when locals complain about the traffic. Well, all except for the annoying string of 4th Avenue lights.

We are enjoying the buzzing green. Green is all around us. Rolling hills in Pelham, the large "meadow" of my parents. And dripping rain. Rain with the promise of greener greens. We crank windows open, eagerly watching clouds roll in, waiting for the first drops to splatter against the screen.

We do not tire of rain.

We also do not tire of bacon.

We are enjoying a slow summer. The promise of eight more weeks of lazy mornings, special visits, meandering walks. The gift of an old two-wheeler promises new experiences and adventures as well. How will my daughters grow?

I was told this week that I paint a romantic picture of Qatar. And I thought, "Shhh!! Don't reveal my secret!" For my skill at romanticizing has become so honed that even in the midst of mind-numbing, child-screaming chaos, I see the romance. Let's call it embracing the moment. And let's remember: I'm not in the 50 degree summer, and I won't be here for the drawn-out, grey winter. Romanticizing is easy when life is already pretty darn good.

I am realizing the balance. For the sacrifices we make, we can enjoy better what we have. A carefree summer in our home country. Travel to places we never dreamed we'd see. Exposure to a huge blend of cultures. A fantastic international experience for our daughters. Rich, inspiring visits with friends from home. Life may sometimes be challenging, but it is certainly never dull. Our Qatari experience has so far been a steep learning curve, but surprise, surprise, our time in Canada has been unpeeling the layers and revealing to me that there are no regrets. I am glad for the path we are on.

And for now? I'll keep enjoying the sand-free air and the colourful landscapes. And I'll keep pouring on the blueberries and piling on the bacon. And enjoying the fact that the LCBO is a short walk away.




Thursday, June 13, 2013

First Day in Canada

So many vivid mental pictures of today. Waking up to rain, pouring rain, and such green grass. "Let's run in the meadow, mom. Let's have a picnic in the rain, mom!" Putting on jeans and sweaters and racing in the cold rain, remembering that in Canada, flip flops are not always the most appropriate choice of footwear. Kaiya running in the wind and rain, arms splayed out, whooping and hollering, "I love Canada!" Looking for bird nests, stomping on mushrooms.

When is the last time I wore a sweater?

Eating fresh blueberries and ... pickles for breakfast. Her favourite pickles. Exclaiming over big, fat bunches of asparagus and freshly fried-up bacon. Loading up the blackforest ham.

Snacking on strawberries and even more blueberries while watching the sky clear. The sky... the huge expanse of sky, with clouds of every shape, every shade of grey. Puffs and wisps and cotton balls and streaks of cloud. And then the sun, and oh the blue of the sky. Spotting a bright red cardinal so sharply contrasted against the green of the grass, the green of the large tree shading my parent's front yard.

Wind without sand.

Playing skip rope, dancing to made-up songs, and running imaginary races with invisible dragons. Listening to birds chirp, collecting pine cones, performing impromptu dramas for audiences of two.

Windows open, cool breezes flowing, babes deep asleep by eight.

27 hours of travel? So far away. And so very worth it.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Random Ramblings

**Mostly written last week. You could say I've been distracted with getting ready to go to Canada.**

Ah, June. June in Qatar. Not the best of times, really.

I remember how desperate  I was last year to get out of the country. It was a mix of factors... horrible class, repressing heat, first trimester hormones, etc. etc. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when the first day of summer holidays finally arrived.

This year ain't so bad. Mat leave has been good for my soul. But I do find I'm getting more antsy as the heat rises, and as my daily interactions continue to be mostly confined to gurgles and goos. The landscape has been pretty bleak these days, too. Dust and sand just seem to be clinging to the air, and everything is a dull gray. Outdoor activities are limited to swimming and evening walks (not so bad, really, but we miss the parks).

I've been feeling the tensions of the people around me. Living here, we really are left to the whims of our employers. Contracts for September have yet to be signed, and many details of contracts have yet to be given. Some friends who depend on their employers for housing are being moved, but they don't yet know when or where. Stressful when you're trying to make plans for the summer. And of course, it's report card season again. I thought we would be escaping that stress by leaving June 12th, but it turns out that is the date Jeff's marks are due. So I'll be seeing my husband again on June 28th. :)

I found out today at a school meeting that there are families who stay here over the summer. I know this, really I do. I mean, those of us in the field of education, with the freedom to leave all summer, are really in the minority. But -GASP- the thought of having to be here all summer and find ways to occupy the kids in 50 degree heat..... let's just say I'm so thankful we're able to get the heck out of dodge.

***

I'm embarrassed to say how much I've been frequenting the Tim Horton's at the new mall. It seems I like their coffee more than I remember. With the mall being literally a two-minute drive away, I find that even on days where nothing else happens, I still manage a quick stop at the Timmie's, where I smile and ask for my medium with two cream, no sugar. But I find the mall itself comforting. It's not fully functioning yet, with only half the stores open, which is kind of odd really. But it makes for a quiet, relaxed atmosphere. When Jeff saw it, he said it felt a bit lame, by Qatari standards. Nothing fancy, nothing over-the-top. A pretty basic design. And the other day, a friend mentioned that it felt very "North American." "People are walking around in t-shirts and flip flops!!" Yes, exactly why I like it. An unpretentious feeling of home. Jeff asked me the other day, "So how often do you think you'll go to Tim Horton's in Canada?" I answered, "Oh, probably only a couple of times." Funny, the things we hold on to when we're far away from home.

***

Mr. Akhtar let Kaiya take Terry the Tiger home the other day. Terry usually sits on Mr. Akhtar's desk. When I asked Kaiya if Terry could talk, she informed me that he only talks to Mr. Akhtar. But then she loudly proclaimed, "But he doesn't really talk, mom. It's just pretend!"

Terry had quite a good stay at our house. I don't think tigers usually eat rice, but he seemed to really enjoy ours.





We're getting ready to say goodbye to Mr. Akhtar. It's no fun doing this with a teacher who all the parents agree is "exceptional." How do you help your daughter with such a transition, especially when he is moving back to the UK? Geez. Sometimes I really need to take a deep breath and remember that she's only five. That so far, she has handled every transition in her little life far better than I have.

***

In less than 24 hours we'll be in the air! No wonder my thoughts are feeling so jumbled. See you on the other side...