About Us

About Us
Glenn and I have been married for nine spectacular years. We recently moved to Saudi Arabia, which is obviously very far away from both of our families. We keep this blog updated so we can stay close to our friends and fam and to keep a record of our family adventures. Glenn is enjoying his new job and I am loving being a stay-at-home mom. We have two sweet little boys, Tate and Finn and we love them to pieces every day. We also love date nights, good movies, good food, and being with each other!
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Monday, December 15, 2014

Al Hasa, Al Ahsa, Al-Ahasa

This past weekend we spent our Saturday in Al Hasa.  Glenn has a very kind Saudi co-worker who has continually offered to show us around the area where he was raised and Saturday worked out perfectly so we took him up on his offer to explore a new area with an expert guide.  We passed several signs pointing our way but almost every one had a different spelling for a seemingly simply spelled region.  Al Hasa could also be Al Ahsa or Al-Ahasa...or a few others that we didn't write down.  So funny.
Also on our drive down we cranked Winter Wonderland and Sleigh Ride and other Christmas classics while driving through scenery like this:

Kind of mind-blowing looking around at the desert where we now reside and listening to our Christmas tunes.  Last Christmas we were driving around snowy Colorado with no idea what our next year would bring.  
Just a few months ago we would look for bunnies and prairie dogs as we drove around town.  Now we play "who sees a camel".  

 What a crazy life.
The first stop on our tour was a really cool fort.  Tate wanted pictures of him saluting in every hallway, just like the Nutcracker, of course.  We were in a fort after all.

 My two little toy soldiers.
 They were thrilled to be able to run around after being stuck in the car for a couple of hours.  There were hardly any tourists around at all and the weather was beautifully mild all day.

 I kept thinking of my mom when we passed all the old doors.  She has a thing for old doors.

 Here's Glenn and Finn with Glenn's work buddy Baqer (pronounced bah-ker)

 We wandered into the little sitting room for some shade and a few family pics.

 On our way out one of the guys at the front desk of the fort told us they had gifts for us.  He's involved in some sort of cultural outreach program and since we are clearly American, he wanted to give our boys some gifts and take some pictures with us.  Well all right.
 The boys were thrilled with their treasures.  Here they are holding their own miniature Qu'ran and "A Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam".
They thought it was very cool that they got gifts for visiting a fort.  Finn carried around his "Kuhram" all day.  He was so excited to have his own tiny book.  We told him it was a book of scripture and he would point to pages and say, "Does this say Jesus?"
Next, Baqer took us to an amazing antique shop.  More old doors out front.
We didn't buy anything, but it was fun to wander through the treasures.
Driving in Saudi.  A little kid hanging out the top of the car.  Sure.  Why not?
The restaurant that Baqer wanted to take us to for lunch didn't have a family section open at lunch time which meant that I wouldn't be able to go in.  So he got some take out from another place and then took us to his family's date farm to eat.  This is the big room where all 14 of his siblings, or as many as can make it, gather for Friday dinner each week.  We ate chicken, fish, rice, and vegetables on the ground with our hands.  We brought sandwiches and fruit for the boys.  They weren't quite up to the "full Saudi" meal experience, as Glenn calls it.

Lucky for us, his farm had a western and an eastern toilet.  They're both in identical doors right next to each other.  Finn needed to go potty and he walked into the eastern toilet first, paused for a minute, then said, "Nope.  That's just a shower."  Shut the door and then found the actual western toilet.  So funny.
Then we fed our left overs to the goats.  Finn was a little hesitant.  You can see the pita he threw at the goat in this picture.
He warmed up a bit with some help from Glenn.

Next Baqer took us to the Hofoof caves (pronounced hoe-foof).  Finn called them the "poof poof caves", which I think I like better.
Yes, I did wander through some sandy caves, with my two children, while 7 months pregnant with twins and wearing an abaya.  Thank you very much.  Unfortunately my girth did limit some of the more narrow cave explorations, but we did our best.
The caves were pretty incredible.  The boys had so much fun exploring and choosing which fork to take next.  Most of the big forks of the caves were lit and the ground was pretty much level so it was just a cool walk through amazing caves.  No gear or flashlights necessary.  Here are the boys wearing their "scared" faces.

Aaaand showing their tough muscles.

Our last stop was to a pottery place where we watched a couple of guys making some pretty cool pottery.  It was incredible how fast they were and how uniform they could make goblet after goblet.  

Thanks Baqer, for a fantastic family adventure.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Bahrain Take 2, or Ode to the Sofitel

Bliss.  Absolute bliss.  We decided our family needed one more weekend OOK (out of Kingdom) before we were on baby lockdown for a while waiting for the babes to arrive and then adjusting to the two new babes at home.  We had a particularly rough week here in Saudi and the weekend couldn't have come at a better time.  
Since we were celebrating our family "babymoon" of sorts, we decided to go all out and book a resort with its' own beach that came very highly recommended by several of our friends.  It was more than the last hotel we stayed, for sure, but the perks were absolutely worth it.  Private pools and beach, club level meals for free throughout the day, a beautiful relaxing room, free kids club (which we didn't take advantage of this time), a few really yummy restaurants on sight, and tons of other things that we never got to on our two night stay.  We drove across the causeway on Thursday after school and work and it was dark by the time we arrived.  We just got some dinner at their yummy Italian restaurant and went to sleep.  The next morning, we woke up to this view from our balcony:

We "slept in" as much as we can sleep in now, and then headed to the club lounge for a buffet breakfast.  All the fruit Finn could eat and all the pancakes Tate could eat...which is a lot.  It was wonderful.
Then we explored the grounds for a little bit and let the boys run.
It was so nice to stay somewhere with so much outdoor space to run and play.  We stressed the importance of "inside best behavior" with the promise that they could wrestle and yell and run as soon as we got outside and it was a very effective compromise.  They behaved really well all weekend and had so much fun.  Tate wants to go there every weekend now and is disappointed every weekend when that is not the plan.
Our little crazies playing on the hammock.  This is right before Finn rolled off and hit his head on the bottom brace causing a pretty decent goose egg, poor boy.

So so beautiful.
After about an hour of wandering and exploring our hotel and grounds we decided to run some Bahrain errands.  We were worried that this weekend wouldn't happen because getting our car came right down to the wire.  We'd ordered our new vehicle but couldn't buy it until Glenn's drivers license came through and it finally did and we were able to get our car just a couple of days before we left.  Our new Saudi car.  And the first time we've ever paid cash for a new car.  Good gracious that feels good.
It's a 2014 Acadia.  The bucket seats were a must with out soon to be family of 6 so the boys could climb in the back seat without having to move the little girls' car seat bases.  Leather interior, entertainment system...which we discovered on the way over the causeway doesn't play our huge collection of DVDs...should have thought of that!  So we ended up paying way too much for a few in Pal format to use in the car.  We love it so far.  It's comfortable, has enough trunk space for everything we need (we think:), and the boys love it too.
We drove over to Babies R' Us to try to get a few baby things.  The biggest priority was car seats with bases.  We have a double stroller coming in our shipment and just thought we could get the car seats here and save us some space in our e boxes.  Turns out when they say, "You can get pretty much everything you can get in the US, in Saudi"  what they mean is, "You can get like 2 things you can get in the US, in Saudi.  And they will be different and lower quality and cost more."  Lesson learned.  We looked at several stores over the course of the weekend and couldn't find a single infant seat that snapped into a base.  Every store had just a few options of car seats (because most people here don't use them) and none of them had bases that buckle into the car.  So we'd have to buckle both seats in every time we get in and out of the car.  And we wouldn't be able to use them with our stroller because we need the kind that will snap into our stroller.  Long story longer, we got incredibly lucky and one of the generous ladies from our fellowship group is going to bring them back from the states for us when she comes back from Christmas break.  Sheesh!
After Babies R' Us, which was a huge disappointment, we went to City Centre Mall again.  Oh I could shop there all day.  Glenn could shop there for about an hour before he wants to rip his hair out.  There was Christmas music playing, Christmas displays in the windows.  It made me so happy!

The boys were happy too.  One of our missions of our trip was to purchase a bit of Christmas contraband.  Since, as my cousin Katelyn puts it, Saudi is where Christmas goes to die.  Glenn was anxiety ridden about said mission all weekend but I was insistent so he relented.  Poor, sweet Glenn.
We went to another kids movie, ate some lunch, picked up a car load of overpriced goodies and then headed back to the hotel for the afternoon.  On the way we ran into an enormous cavalcade of motorcycles.  There must have been some sort of event going on that weekend.  This motorcycle train was miles long and they shut down the freeway as they went by.  The boys were thrilled.
It was a little chilly for my taste and the water was pretty cold, but the boys didn't mind one bit.  We spent a little bit playing in the kids pool.

So beautiful.
Tate watched a cartoon nutcracker a couple of weeks ago and we've been listening to the Nutcracker music ever since. He has his favorite songs and loves to dance around with Finn and play Nutcracker and Mouse King.  Here he is as the Nutcracker fighting Glenn as the Mouse King while humming his own soundtrack.

Seriously.  I want to go back every weekend too.
Being away from the Kingdom for a few days after a really hard week, and to be with my guys in such a beautiful place was like a deep breath for my soul.
After swimming, we looked for sea shells on the beach until it got too chilly.

Then we headed inside for baths and room service.  Remember how magical room service was as a kid?  Okay it still is pretty cool for me too.  You pick whatever you want and make a phone call and then they bring it right to your room?!  That's amazing.
The next morning we "slept in" and got some breakfast and then spent a couple of hours at the pool.  The water was SO cold but we eventually all got in.  It took Glenn and I much longer than it took the boys.
Tate, as usual, spent most of his time under the water.
He has taken great strides in his swimming abilities since moving here.  He can jump in and swim to back to the wall, or across to the other side of the pool all by himself.  He's still not very graceful, but he doesn't panic and he's getting more confident every time he's in the water.  
Finn loves the water too.  It's so fun to be in the pool with our two little fish.

Finn regretted getting in the cold water.  Just for a second.
Swimming makes our boys so stinkin' happy.

It's impossible to take a grouchy picture of the boys when they're in the water.
Tate, however, is hard to catch above the surface.
After swimming, we got dressed, got some lunch, and then checked out to head to the mall one more time...because I begged Glenn.  I got some cookie cutters, because what is Christmas without sugar cookies?  Some Christmas jammies for Tate, and a few other treasures then we got some cold stone and left the mall feeling entirely satisfied.
What a great weekend.  I don't know how we'll ever stay anywhere else after staying at the Sofitel.  It was so perfect.  Great food, great outdoor space and pools, and a beautiful room.  Just what we needed for our last trip OOK for a while.