Friday, September 30, 2011

Got Henna?

So…I am so breaking out of my box these days.  In fact, I can’t even see where I left it.

The kids and I decided to head out to a park this evening around 7:30.  We drove aimlessly trying to find this ONE park that they wanted to go to but it wasn’t to be.  So, I decided to just look for parks in my GPS and the one we were closest to is the one we went to.  It was called the Mushrif Women & Children’s Park.  Apparently it’s only open in the evening.  It cost 1 dhm for me to get in ($.27) and the kids were free.  There were obviously no men around.  There were TONS of women and children running around.  Most of the kids were barefoot.  There were typical park things to climb on and lots of open space.  There were also amusement park rides (that I swear looked like they were going to break apart at any moment) but I somehow tossed caution to the wind and let my kids ride them.  They were only 3 dhs a piece to ride.  There were some places selling food and a few blankets out with women offering to do henna.

I now eat from street vendors so why not get a henna tattoo from a stranger offering to do it from a blanket in the park?

I asked the price and she quoted me 30 dhs. I figured – what the heck??  I told her that I didn’t want it down on my fingers and not too high on my arm, otherwise – I had no idea.  She said if she goes up higher it is 40 dhs and I said, fine.  She did the whole thing freehand.  It was amazing to watch.  She was very quick with her little flourishes and symmetrical with her petals on the flowers.  Such talent!  It looked like she was using icing bags and when it comes on it looks like frosting.  When she finished the first arm, she reached for my other one and I said no thanks.  I gotta start out small you know.  So the cost for the one arm was only 20 dhs!  That amounts to about $5.50.

I snapped a picture with my phone shortly after it was done:



Then I was told to wait an hour before washing it off.  So as I waited I started to feel it harden. Then, I started to get panicky, but did a great job of talking myself down in my head.  Seriously….this is how my internal conversation went: 

It feels itchy.

No it doesn’t

I think it might be getting red.

No, it’s not

I wonder if you can be allergic to Henna?  What’s the emergency number again?


What would I say if I had a reaction?

Wait, would I stop breathing?

No, no, no

My fingers feel numb, I wonder if I’m losing feeling because I’m having a reaction.

Um…it’s probably because you’re holding your hand down and not moving it.

You’re fine.  You’re fine.  You’re fine.

What if I get an infection?  What if it seeps into my bloodstream and it’s bad henna and something happens?

See – this is why you shouldn’t deal with unlicensed street vendors who don’t give you their name or a card to go back on.

Seriously….you’re fine…calm down….look around you at all the people with henna….it’s no big deal….breathe.


That is me talking myself down from a panic attack.  I was fine.  Really.  The kids had no idea about my internal struggle with crazytown for a few moments.

So….I got home and took a picture of the now dried henna:


Then, I washed it off and the pretty color faded:


Then, I rubbed olive oil on like she suggested.  It was that or baby oil which I didn’t have:


I guess I’ll see how it looks in the morning.  I wonder if it will get darker.  No redness or swelling though so that’s good Smile

Tried Church–It’s a New Reality

So – my first trip to church didn’t go so well.  We went after being here less than 2 weeks and I was craving something like home.  I walked out in tears because it was NOTHING like home.

We’ve been back a couple more times and now I enjoy it.  I am learning that I have a new reality here.  I cannot have things just like at home and that’s okay.  I will find new things, meet new people and try new experiences.  They are new and different and that’s okay.

So they don’t touch each other at church, no holding hands during the Our Father and no shaking hands during the “peace be with you” – that’s okay.  We can still smile and aknowledge each other. 

So the singing is different, that’s okay – I can like different music. 

So there is no communal coffee & donut time afterwards.  That’s okay – I like the cheap coconut bread, sugar bread and onion rolls that I buy from the table outside after we’ve walked among 10,000 people all squished together to get outside. 

So it’s not easy to hop in the car and get home, I can enjoy the 1/4 mile walk in the sunshine to my car and then bumper-to-bumper traffic to get out of the parking lot.

It’s not like home but that’s okay.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Body Fat Calipers Suck

I decided to do a free personal training assessment.  It starts with weighing, measuring and body fat checking.  Awesome.  I asked the personal trainer what the more accurate way to check the body fat is.  The choices were holding onto one of those metal handle things or having them use a pinchy body-caliper thing.  He said the caliper is more accurate.  Fine.

What I didn’t realize is that they grab your fat and pinch it in multiple places.  (I thought it was just the tricep.)  He did the upper right back, tricep, thigh, hip and abdomen.  Then he added the numbers, checked on a chart and told me how awful it was.  Actually – not too bad.  But – I asked what my range should be.  He said 15% – 20%.  Ummmm – call me crazy but isn’t that like triathalon-training, skinny, super-fit percentage like?   Unless I eat celery and fish and exercise 3 hours a day it’s not happening.  Not to be pessimistic or anything, just realistic.

So – it’s almost October 1st and the first of a month is always a good day to get back in the groove with some healthy eating.  If I’m paying a bunch for the Country Club membership and taking these kick-butt classes then I should be showing something for it dangit!

Where are all the Old People?


Seriously?  I saw an elderly man today and it was at that moment that I realized it was the first one I’ve seen in 6 weeks.  What the heck?  I don’t see elderly with canes, no elderly in wheelchairs.  No elderly walking around.  Are they hiding?  Do they ship them somewhere when they hit a certain age?  Are they in old people homes?  Do they die young here?  Am I so oblivious that I don’t notice them?  It’s a mystery.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tried a Mangosteen


We decided to try a new fruit today.  They are called Mangosteens and in this case they had been sitting in my fridge for three weeks.


P1000191As you can see, there was no expiration date on the package so I thought we’d give it a try.











They ended up being like cutting a golf ball in half:




Eventually I got it cut open and found 6 garlic clove like pieces that were soft-ish and very tart.


Decided to buy them again at the Fruit Market a few days later and they were soft and cut open easily and were ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!!!!   Lesson learned:  don’t buy them and let them sit in your fridge for three weeks.  Eat quicker.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

GPS Broke and I got lost

I bought a GPS a few days after moving here and it’s been saving grace and maybe a little bit of a crutch.  I got in the car the other day and found that ALL of my favorites were erased and it had set back to the original settings.  CRAP!!!  I had to get Cameron to preschool and only knew the GENERAL area that the school was located.  There are no street addresses here and there is a bit of logic in the illogic of how the streets are.  Everything is a grid and within every little grid are the same street numbers so you cross Street 15 and find 6th, 7th, 8th, etc… and then you cross Street 19 and find 6th, 7th, 8th, etc…  So you need to know cross streets and landmarks to get around.

Ummmm……I had a GPS and didn’t pay attention to things like that.  So, I thought I knew the general area it was in and typed in what I THOUGHT was the intersection and headed in that direction and THEN I drove in circles on this square block of numbers trying to find the preschool.  No luck.  So I proceeded to call the school and the lady even offered to have me stop and she would come to me and get me.  I politely declined.  I REALLY wanted to figure it out so instead she gave me the directions and stayed on the phone with me for a while.

Eventually I got there.  School starts at 8:00 and they should be there by 8:30.  I had PLANNED to have him there by 8:15 and he got there by 8:45.  I swear it only takes 15 minutes from my house.  I re-programmed it in my GPS and now have a better idea of where it is so it shouldn’t happen again!

On the plus side….this would have led to a panic attack a few weeks ago and I was TOTALLY FINE!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ferrari World


We finally headed out to Ferrari World.  It is located about 20 minutes from our house on Yas Island and is a GIGANTIC indoor amusement park that is totally focused on Ferrari stuff.  I took lots of pictures.  There were race car Ferrari cars to look at up close and super-fun rides.  They have the fastest roller-coaster in the world there but it was down for maintenance that day.  We did go on a “dueling racecar” ride that had two roller coasters going at the same time on side by side tracks that zip and zoom over and under each other.  Very cool and we rode it several times.  There were little race cars that Alexander & Bella could ride and Cameron got to “drive” a car that was on stable track thing.  We also did a neat Simulation ride and the kids had fun playing there for hours.  It’s pretty expensive to go so you need to figure to spend lots of time there to make it worthwhile.  We also saw a crazy, English lady do an acrobatic act.  All in all it was a fantastic day!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ice Cream.....delivered?

I was craving something sweet tonight. Bella was off playing at a neighbors and I didn't feel like dragging the boys out. I called a restaurant that we order deliver from sometime to see if the ice cream (that I had seen on their menu) was available for delivery.

It sure was! Score!

The had chocolate, vanilla, mango and strawberry and they were 2 dhs each (about $.50). I ordered one of each. It was delivered 20 minutes later.

There was a 2 dhs delivery charge and I tipped 3 dhs. So total cost was 13 dhs or about $5.

On the plus side.....small, individual, true single servings. Tasted yummy. Prevented me from buying an entire pack of Oreos and eating all of them.

On the cream can be purchased for delivery.

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Chuck E Cheese on steroids

Took the kids to a play area today that was up in the Meena Port area.

It was like Chuck E Cheese on steroids.

Typical games and some rides and bumper cars. Everything ran by a card swipe and cost about 3 dhs to 15 dhs. Some gave out tickets for prizes too.

Kid had fun.

See that kid flying by bungee in the air. Swear to God thought he would hit the freakin' rafters! No way m kids were trying it.

Cam had a blast hanging out in here for a while.

Another flying child. Crazy! I swear some of the kids looked about 4 years old too.

We'll have to go again some time!

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The Fish Market

Hello sensory overload.

Decided to check out the Fish Market with the kids today.

The smell is intense when you walk in and I needed to hold back from gagging. Luckily that passed soon enough. There were rows upon rows of men selling what was probably fresh fish on ice. Aside from Red Snapper, Shark, Hammour, Crab, Shrimp and Lobster.......I didn't know what anything was.

There were several aisles of fish on ice with men trying to get you to buy from them. I had no idea what was good or what wasn't. Today was just an exploratory expedition.

Beyond the rows there was the fish cleaning aisle. The kids were mesmerized and I was holding back from retching. There are buckets of fish guts, gross stuff on the wet floor and people just gutting, filleting, de-scaling and hacking away. I didn't capture pics of this.

As we left that area we saw a spot for grilling and seasoning.

They also had bags of dried fish and dried fish pieces for sale.

From what I've heard you can buy fish, bring it to the preparing area and specify how you want it cleaned and then if you want you can go and have it seasoned and grilled right there.

What a fresh way to go. Now if I can just find someone who knows what they are doing to walk me through it all.....

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Day at the Hiltonia Beach Club

Hellloooooo Paradise.

I went to the Beach Club with a friend and her son today. The boys played well together and I am currently thinking of how to justify a beach club membership (just for me and Cam during the weekdays).

Yes, that's a swim up bar. Is Christa pretending to have a drink or offering to take a picture of me and Cam?

We saw a crane working in the water.

It was so empty at 10 am on a weekday.

They started getting close to each other...eventually the enjoyed playing WITH each other instead of near each other.

These were a HUGE hit. Cameron didn't want to leave them.

The warm, salty beautiful Persian Gulf. Ahhhhhhhh.

REAL beach sand. No rocks. Awesome!

Another wonderful little pool, this one had a little waterfall of eater pouring over from one of the other wonderful little pools.

Our friends left at 12:30 but Cameron and I stayed and ate lunch before leaving at 2:00.

Now I need to convince Brian I need to join in order to remind myself how beautiful it is here and how lucky we are to get a glimpse of paradise o ly 15 minutes away!!

Back to School Night

Briefly....LOVE the kids school. There is so much available to them, the staff is great, the moms are lovely, very excited for their learning experience there.

Huge music room with lots of fun instruments.

The big art room has a side room with 6 pottery wheels and a kiln.

Laptop Carts everywhere and computers integrated into their classwork.

Three Arabic teachers and Alexander should be able to read simple books by the of the year. (they look like Dick and Jane type stories)

The have a large, covered pool. Two big soccer fields and a few different outdoor play areas and a big rock climbing wall in the gym.

I wish I had a school like that!!

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Preschool Begins

We heard back from a preschool on Sunday. They had an opening for two days a week (Sun/Tues) and they sounded fabulous.

1:7 ratio
Outside play area
Indoor play area
Structured Activity
Free Play Time
Library Time
Staff sounded friendly
Full Time nurse on staff

I went in Monday morning for a tour and LOVED it.

He started Tuesday morning and did great! The secretary even texted me twice to update me with how he was doing and she tried taking a few pics too.

Cam was so excited to go, really. He just didn't want his picture taken.

They also have an indoor gym area for playtime too.

He walked right in like he owned the place and the teacher said he acted as if he's always been there. Now if only that attitude lasts!

So that was my baby heading off to school. I thought I could handle it and I was fine but I'm going to take an entire separate blog to talk about the actual day.

He had to find his name and put it on the tree.

A fun pretend play area they utilize.

Dress-up Area and the door to his room.

It's a big school with 8 different classrooms for kids from under 12 months to 4. Each class has kids about 6 months apart in age.

Covered Outdoor Play Area #1

Covered Outdoor Play Area #2

After I picked up Cameron and we headed to get the big kids from school (Bella had her first girl scout meeting and I wanted to attend. Usually they take the bus home so I would just get Cam and come home).

We passed the school playground and Cameron said "there's a boy out there who wants to play with me. He was at my school with the car shirt on."

Sure enough, there was a boy with a Cars shirt on that looked his age and Cam went right up to him and they started playing. So, I located the mom and sure enough her son is in class with Cam on Tuesdays. The mom was nice and we talked about getting the boys together for a playdate. They ran into each other at the ACS playground a few days later too.

Preschool was a total success!

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