Sunday, September 30, 2007

I guess we aren't in the Bible Belt anymore

Today I was driving Will to a birthday party at a class mate’s home. The class mate doesn’t have a very good reputation (he gets in trouble at school) so I was a little concerned about Will attending the party.

On the way there Will said “Do you want to know something bad about Hunter? He doesn’t believe in God.”

Whoa, I wasn’t expecting that. He said Hunter didn’t believe God created the world, he believed science created the world. Will said he and his friend, Isis, discussed this with him and asked him “Well then, who created science?” That a boy! We talked about showing Hunter God’s love and praying for him….but, I never thought my 6 year old would be having discussions like this in his first grade class. I guess this is something you encounter when you move out of the Bible Belt….way out of the Bible Belt.

Friday, September 28, 2007

All Dressed Up

This is sweet Mekedas in her church clothes. Isn't she pretty? Actually these are special church clothes for singing in the choir or participating in the service(I think). She usually just wears a regular dress or skirt and covers her head with a white scarf. One day I hope to visit her church (Ethiopian Orthodox Christian, which is one of the first christian churches in history) and I am working on finding an English/Amharic bible so we can more easily talk about the scripture verses. She is very devout and last week when we didn't go to church (too lazy) she asked me if we "forgot" I really love having her here. She is a tremendous help around the house and we laugh a lot together. I am so thankful that God brought her to our family.

The Singing Sand Dunes

This is the day that the LORD has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it....Psalm 118:24

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sticker Shock

Every time I buy groceries here I always suffer a little sticker shock when I see the total. Today's total 753.78............Qatari Riyals, that is. You convert it to $ amount by dividing by 4 and adding 10%. So it isn't as bad as it sounds, but just paying 700 or 800 of any money for groceries doesn't feel very good. The most expensive thing 33 QR for a box of Honey Nut Cherrios! Will loves'em and I am a sucker.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Whirling Dervish

Last night we were at the mall and in honor of Ramadan there was entertainment. We got to see these spinning guys. It is pretty amazing they can stand up after. It is supposed to bring them closer to Allah....I thing it would just make me dizzy drunk.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


I haven't felt very inspired lately.

Things are happening here. Our lives are getting a little bit busier. Abbey is playing basketball at school. We had to convince her to give it a try and she actually liked it after the first practice.

I love the afterschool programs here. The elementary kids can play sports, like basketball, soccer, cross country or swimming. They practice right after school for about an hour. They form teams and play each other. At the end of the season (6 weeks) they choose some of the kids to represent our school in a tournament against other schools.

Abbey also signed up for choir. She loves singing and really likes her new music teacher.

The school also offers other afterschool activities besides sports. Will chose a cooking/reading class. They will read a book like If You Give a Moose a Muffin and then cook something related to the book, in this case, they would make muffins.

Cole is going to play baseball (for the first time), but it doesn't get started to after Ramadan. He is excited about playing a new instrument, the saxophone. We are still looking for a piano teacher for him.

I am participating in the Beth Moore Daniel bible study. I did the same study last year, but I am sure I will learn something new the second time around. We had our first meeting today. About 50 ladies were there. Wow! We are also having a ladies conference Nov. 2-3.

We had Open House for Will's class last night. I really like his teacher, although she looked right at me when she said, "Please don't send Oreos in your child's lunch." Oooops. Mekedas kept the kids for us and we went to eat Indian food after. A date.

And lastly, I got my haircut and highlighted. I went to the closest place (I am still a big chicken about driving here), which happened to be the Ritz Carlton. It was amazingly expensive and probably will not be going back there. I now have a fashionable haircut that I need two extra arms to style by myself.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Will learned how to ride his bike last night!! He is so proud!

Friday, September 14, 2007

First Day of School

Friday Church

Does everyone know we have church on Fridays here? Our weekend is Friday/Saturday. I really actually like it better. It makes the weekend seem longer. Church is going well. We are bursting at the seams, though. And, we really need a pastor. If you know of anyone that would be interested, let me know. The church has two full services, standing room only. The church is multicultural and non-denominational. It would definitely be a challenge for any pastor, but I am sure there is someone out there thinking "I wish I could move to the Middle East and pastor a church."

On the subject of church, did you know that the Muslim community is now entering the month of Ramadan? The word "Ramadan" derives form the Arabic root meaning scorching heat or dryness. This whole month beginning with the sighting of the new moon, the Muslim people will fast daily from sunrise to sunset. It is a time of joy and excitement among the Muslim people. It is considered the most blessed and spiritually beneficial month of the year for them. It is also time of increased prayer and charity.

What this means for us is that stores and restaurants have weird, shorter hours. The Muslim people work a shorter work day. Our kids get out of school 30 minutes earlier. We are supposed to be especially modest in our dress and not eat, drink or chew gum when out in public. Abbey said that all the windows of the cafeteria at school are covered and two children in her class go to another room because they are fasting.

It is said a sense of lethargy permeates the country, with empty streets and an errie silence as sunset approaches. At the end of each day, they break the fast with dates and yoghurt or milk (called iftar), followed by prayers and eat and party with family and friends until the wee hours. Night is turned to day as people visit, shop and go about activities. They eat a final meal (the suhour) just before dawn in preparation for a new day of fasting. The hotels set up extravagent tents where anyone can go (for a charge) and indulge in Arabic foods,music and entertainment. It is here you can see a "whirling dervish". We are planning on going one night, so I will let you know more about it soon.

At the end of Ramadan is the Festival of Fast Breaking, called Eid Al Fitr or just Eid. It is a 3 day holiday for us and a major celebration for Muslims. We are just happy to have 3 days off from school and work.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

How to Leave an Anonymous Comment

I just made it easier to leave a comment on my blog. You no longer have to log into a google account. You may leave an anonymous comment by clicking on "comments" and selecting anonymous after you type your comment in the box.

Of course, you can sign your name in the comment box so I know who you are. So, now all my faithful readers(ha!) can easily leave a comment even if you don't have a google account or if you have forgotten your password.

You can't imagine how much your comments mean to me. The only thing better is if you start blogging yourself, so I can keep up with what's going on in your life.

i miss you.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I DID IT!!!!

One of the beautiful things about this stage in my life is my opportunities and possibilities are wide open. My baby started first grade, so all three of my kids are in school for a full day. I have house help, so I don't have to constantly be doing laundry or housework. I could do anything I want to do. I could learn a new skill or language, I could become one of "those" moms that is up at the school everyday volunteering, I could get a job, I could go back to school. I could become a serious shopper and eat lunch out everyday (not likely). The only thing holding me back is ....................driving in Doha.

Books could be written about driving in Doha. It is completely and totally crazy. First, instead of intersections with traffic lights, we have roundabouts. Roundabouts seem to have very few rules. You look for an opening and accelerate into the roundabout and hope you make it out the other side alive. Second, many people here drive with very little or no consideration of other cars on the road. They will pull out in front of you, pass you on the shoulder, weave in and out of traffic at high speeds and blow their horn furiously at you. Third, very few street signs exist. Here you navigate by landmarks. Fourth, my sweet husband (who has a very cautious nature) is afraid for me to drive and therefore has been discouraging me from driving.

This morning I decided today was the day. I took Mekedas with me and we set out for the grocery store. It was nice having Mekedas with me, although I am sure she thinks I am totally insane now. We managed to get to the store, which is in a mall, and I was so pleased. There was not a lot of traffic. We spent a couple of hours shopping. It was so nice to go to the grocery store and not have husband and three kids "helping" you shop. On the way home, I got somewhat lost. We were in terrible traffic (lunch time) and went through lots of roundabouts. We went waaaay out of the way, but praise the Lord, we finally made it back to home.

I feel pretty confident about the actual driving part after today. We tackled some very hairy roundabouts. Now, I just have to learn my way around and figure out what I want to do with my new found freedom.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Desert Rescue Rangers

This morning one of Bill's coworkers called and asked if we would come pull them out of the sand at the Singing Sand Dunes . He along with his pregnant wife and children ages 2 and 3 had gone out to do some dune bashing and were stuck in the sand. Bill, Cole and I got ready, borrowed a tow rope and shovel and started out for the dunes. Granted, we had never been there and really weren't sure how to get there and the main road going that direction was under major construction with closures and diversions. It took us a very frustrating 3 hours to locate them. They were extremely glad to see us. Fortunately, they had snacks and water and an air conditioned vehicle to sit in. But, I am sure it was pretty scary. They had been stuck for a total of 5 hours by the time we got there.

The sand dunes were awesome. Cole said they didn't even look real.....they looked computer generated. We will definitely make a trip out there with our family one day, but after our experience today, we will be going with a professional guide.

Friday, September 7, 2007

really BIG news

A few weeks ago I was reading one of my favorite blogs. I read written by Angel almost daily. She writes a very encouraging and challenging blog (You should read it-really). In her blog, Angel announced she was going on a mission trip and asked if anyone wanted to go with her. I left a comment (for the very first time-it really was painless) and said I was interested in going. Angel emailed me and gave me contact information for the woman organizing the trip. I contacted her and I am very excited to tell you that

I am going to Ethiopia,March 29-April 5, on a mission trip!

I have been wanting to do "something" for a long time. This trip was the "something" I was looking for. We are going to be going to two different orphanages in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. One of the orphanages is called Layla House and is for kids waiting to be adopted. The other is for children that are HIV positive and is sponsored by AHOPE. The website for AHOPE is if you want to read more about it. On the mission trip we will be loving and encouraging the children and workers. We are taking supplies to make life a little easier for them. We are doing some painting, decorating, making smocks for the workers and taking the kids on a field trip. I am sure we will just be available for whatever they need us to do.

Amazingly, after God opened the door for me to go on this trip, he brought Mekedas, our Ethiopian housemaid, to us. I feel even more invested knowing I will be traveling to not only her country, but to Addis Ababa, her home city.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

American School of Doha

Today we had the kid's orientations at their new school. Because of building delays the school opening was moved from Sept. 4 to Sept. 9. So, we are anxiously awaiting the first day of school.

We had a very good first impression. The information session in the elementary school was a bit disorganized as they sometimes are, but the teachers and staff were very friendly and enthusiastic.

Will's teacher is Mrs. Krebs. She has been teaching for 17 years and seems like the perfect first grade teacher. All smiles,very sweet and she plays the guitar. She taught in Korea before ASD. Her husband teaches music in the middle school. The children have to choose which foreign language they want to learn, Spanish or Arabic. Will wanted to learn Arabic. I guess there is no better place to learn Arabic than the Middle East.

Abbey's teacher is Mrs. Spear. She is new to the school and new to Doha. She moved here from Colorado. Her husband is the elementary librarian. She and her husband have both taught internationally before. She seems very nice too.

Cole is going in 6th grade in the new middle and high school building. The new school is amazing. The cafeteria has a Coffee Beanery (like Starbucks), no caffeine though. Each grade level in the middle school has its own level with a commons area with multiple sitting areas and a wall of outlets for the kids to plug in their laptops or other electronics. The library is going to be very nice, once they get the books on the shelves.

Only one more day...I will let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Snaggle Tooth

Will has a snaggle tooth.

Or at least he did have a snaggle tooth. Before I could get my post together he wiggled that little front tooth right out of there.

He is one of those kids that gets a loose tooth and will not leave it alone until he gets it out.

He has lost two bottom teeth already, but for some reason this top one is special. Maybe it is because it changes his appearance so much. He looks older, more mischievous. Maybe it's because he is my baby and it's the last time we will have a child lose his first front tooth. (did you follow that?)

He keeps his two bottom teeth (previously lost teeth) in a little blue plastic box. He made sure the tooth fairy knew he wanted to keep them. Tonight he had me write a letter to the tooth fairy.

Dear Tooth Fairy,
Please do not take my tooth because I like it. But, leave me some money.
From, Will

Later, he came stumbling in my room half asleep insisting I take his tooth and the letter. I said "Put the letter back under your pillow, and I'll bet you'll still get some money."

"No", he insisted. "I don't care about the money. I just want my tooth."

I assured him I would put in my jewelry box for safe keeping.

Funny little boy.....He really does like that tooth.

For the record, big brother, Cole has lost two molars since we have been here. That poor tooth fairy is going to go broke.

Meet Mekedas

One of the most significant things in our lives these days is the arrival of Mekedas. She is our new housemaid. She is a sweet young lady (25 years old) from Ethiopia. When we were considering moving to Doha, we were told that many expats employ live in housemaids. I immediately thought "whoo hooo".

We talked it around with a lot of people here and there were definitely two opinions on live in housemaids. We decided that as long as we are here we should give it a try. I prayed God would send the right person for our family. It can be a problem if you hire someone and they are dishonest or get into trouble with the authorities. We essentially are sponsoring her to live in this country, so we are responsible for her.

We started asking around for a referral and even posted a sign in the clubhouse at our compound. One day at the pool I met a nice family that was moving to London in a few days. I asked them if they happened to be leaving behind a good housemaid. They were, but had already found a family to sponsor her.

Long story, short. We kept in contact with them and the guy felt like the other family was only sponsoring her as a "favor" for him and he felt like we would be the best family for her. So, the morning we left for Italy and they left to move to London, Mekdas moved into our house. She kept Ruby (our dog) for us while we were gone and cleaned the house, rearranged the furniture(?), washed the cars, and organized all the drawers and closets.

We are getting to know her better everyday. She works very hard and according to her previous employer, she is very trustworthy. She is a Christian and attends the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian church on Fridays. She has a great attitude and smiles and laughs a lot. She has already been a blessing to our family and I hope we can be a blessing to her.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

When in walk a lot!

We just got back this morning from our vacation in Italy. We had a great time, but it was tiring. We kept pretending we were on "The Amazing Race" as we walked all over Italy looking for the train station, restaurant, landmark, etc. The prize for winning "Amazing Race" was a three year vacation in Doha.

Remember when you were in Kindergarten and you did the unit on "Transportation". Well, we lived that unit this past week. We traveled by taxi, plane, train, bus, ferry boat, and tired feet. This was really our first vacation as a family to an unfamiliar place and we learned a lot.

The Highlights of our trip............

1. The Coliseum in Rome. The kids loved this "ginormous" (Will's word) ancient arena. We paid extra for a tour so we didn't have to wait in the "ginormous" line.

2. The "hop on - hop off" double decker bus tour of Rome. Fun for all.

3. The Vatican. Believe it or not. We again paid extra for a tour to avoid the extremely long line and we had the best tour guide. He was laugh out loud funny, full of interesting facts about the art and artist, and made everything come alive for us. The kids even liked it, although by the time we reached St. Peter's Basilica, we took a quick look around and abandoned ship. The kids had reached their limit. I read somewhere to buy postcards in the museum gift shops and let the kids look for the things on the post cards. They had fun doing this.

4. Trevi fountain. Amazing. I loved how you could refill your water bottle at the fountains. The water source for the fountains is all natural.

5. The piazza's. Each one has it's own "personality". Cole and Abbey got to try a Segway at one and I bought a painting from a "starving" artist at another. Fun just to sit and watch people. Although, Italy is for lovers, obviously. We say a lot of passionate couples..which is odd coming from Doha, where PDA is a no-no.

6. Siena. One of my favorites. A town trapped in it's medieval glory. They have a horse race (the Palio) here twice a year that dates back to the middle ages. The people are very enthusiastic about it. The city is divided into 17 neighborhood teams and each has its own flag, colors, etc. We got to witness the energy as the Palio winners for this last race geared up for a parade.

7. San Fabiano. We stayed in Tuscany at a restored farmhouse. The owners were very gracious and showed us around the entire estate. Even though everything was extremely dry, as they have had very little snow or rain this year, it was still beautiful. It was fun to walk (seriously, very "Under the Tuscan Sun") to the tiny town nearby for dinner.

8. Gardaland. The kids favorite day. An amusement park in Italy. I didn't realize my kids were such thrill seekers. Our days of kiddy rides and carousels are over for now. Oh well, on to the roller coasters!!

9. The food was yummy. Although most of the time we ended up goofing up our order, because of our really bad, really limited Italian.

10. Gelato, gelato, gelato......we ate so much gelato. It was delicious. My favorites were mango and coconut. Cole always got chocolate. Abbey liked menta. Will always got stracciatella (kind of like chocolate chip). Bill's favorite was lemoncello.

The kids were so ready to come home and so was I .....Will kept whining "I want to go to Gutter!" (his preferred way of pronouncing Qatar)

So, it is good to be HOME in Gutter watching Virginia Tech on ESPN (Bill's happy!!).