Thursday, November 28, 2013

Ten Months Old!

Isabelle is ten months old today. Jeff and I are exhausted, but happier than we've been most of the month. Our horrible November is over. Work was very stressful for Jeff this November, which turned into stress for all of us. But it's done now, though I have developed the habit of asking Jeff at the end of each day, "Any bombshells today?" It's become a bit of a joke between us.

We're going to enjoy a blissfully FREE weekend this weekend, starting with me going to bed early. Like now. And no, it's not even 9pm yet. 

But first... our fair-haired darling is 10 months old today, and you deserve to see a picture or two of her sweetness. She's more and more social every day, and Jeff is convinced her first word is "daddy." She often stretches her arm out to him, babbling "dadadada." But more and more it's becoming, "dyuhdeee." Wonderful to hear.

Look at those curvy little lips!

Her favourite place to play is the play area upstairs. Tonight, she decided to go exploring...

And that's all I've got in me tonight, folks. G'night!!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Barzan Olympic Park Revisited

Look at those clouds in the sky! Seeing what a cloudy and cool-ish day yesterday was, we knew we wanted to take advantage of the outdoors, so we headed back to Barzan. The last time (and first time) we were there it was incredibly hot and humid, with barely a soul around. We wanted to see what it was like on a more average day.

Entrance fees: 10 riyal/person (unusual to pay for a park in Qatar)

We decided to check out the "bicycles." At the last second, Kaiya decided she didn't want to go on alone, so I hopped on with her. 

Bikes: 5 riyal/person

Kaiya insisted on steering. It made for a crazy ride filled with me constantly squealing: "Keep your eyes on the road!!" Aren't we not supposed to have to worry about this till she's sixteen!? Thankfully, she only ran us off the road once.

We spent some time running around the playground. That was fun, even if I felt a little self-conscious. I was definitely the only parent running.

Isabelle got to try a swing for the first time. My goodness! Could a baby be happier??! She smiled and giggled the whole time she was in the swing.

And lo and behold, there is a train that does a track around the park! Kaiya was super excited when she saw it start up, so we hopped on.

Train: 5 riyal/person

We finished the day off with the very free fountains. Kaiya got soaked once again, but we were prepared with a towel and change of clothes this time. Izzy loved getting close to the action too.

Barzan is a little strange. It has a surreal feel to it. Everything looks a little too perfect, and there are tons of security guards and cleaning staff. Every little piece of litter is quickly swept away. It was a fun day, but I think for the most part, we're going to stick to the free parks, like Dahl al Hammam, the Sheraton Park on the Corniche, and MIA park. This one felt a little too sterile for us. But give it a go, and let me know what you think.

Honestly? The best part of the day was finding a new shawarma place on the drive home, close to the AJs, where lots of our college friends live. Twenty-three riyal for dinner. Now you're talking!

Four more weeks till the holidays. Oh, yes. The countdown is definitely ON. 

Friday, November 08, 2013

Contrasts and Contradictions

Ah, it's such a slippery slope. It started with an email from a friend, a short update on life and her family's recent move. "When you come back to Canada, you should really move to this part of the city. It's so great!" Next thing I knew, my fingers were typing in the address and soon I was looking at detailed interior pictures of a house in my old town. "Oh, it's perfect...." Open-concept main floor, sweet hardwood floors. A decent backyard with a park a stone's throw away. Room to build on a sunroom or garage. Heck, both. A tree-lined street begging for relaxed strolls, the words, "cottage-inspired." Oh, look, it's so cozy. There was thick, bold green grass covering the front yard, and grey, yes, grey clouds in the sky. I could actually smell autumn in the air, feel the crispness in my lungs, and then...

I looked up.

And I was standing in a classroom. Young men in starchy white thobes were shuffling in. The sun was bright, the day was beige. And there were palm trees outside. Where the heck did the palm trees come from?

It happened so fast. I literally had to shake my head. But strangely, even as my vision shifted, and I took in what was before me, all the little sensations remained. I felt fall that whole day. I kept expecting crunchy leaves, and I had to continually remind myself that the cold of my nose was due to the damn A/C and not the chilled November air.

Qatar and I have come to an understanding. Every weekday morning, as I hook up my nano in the truck, we both know that it is not so much my love of music or podcasts that causes me to do so. No, it is the need I have to have something to focus all my attention on so that I can ignore the cars honking all around me, the people making five lanes where there should be three, the folks using slip roads and side shoulders as get-ahead-and-cut-everyone-else-off lanes.

Qatar understands that my renewed interest in meditation and red wine -and not necessarily in that order- are borne not so much out of a desire for inner peace or tipsy nights as they are out of a simple need for survival. For sanity. There are simply too many contradictions in this fine country for a thinking person to even begin to deal with or comprehend. And this blog is not the space to begin. This very. public. blog.

Will I end up a Buddhist monk ... or a rambling drunkard? We shall see. Something tells me the two don't mix.

But I think I'll be avoiding for a little while...