Sunday, January 1, 2012

WE'RE ALIVE!

Yeah, I know. We're the worst bloggers on the planet. I apologize to our loyal readers (of which we have 2) for the extended silence. I wish I could say we were off doing awesomely awesome things that just didn't give us a single minute to record it all...but that was not the case. I really think life over here has become so routine that we don't think there's anything remarkable worth posting anymore. I don't say that in an Eeyore kind of way, I just mean that Saudi has become the new normal, so I don't find myself saying, "Ooh! I need to write a blog post about this!" nearly as often.

To bring you all up to speed, I've compiled a list of the top 10 coolest things we've done since November 19th.

10. We hosted Thanksgiving at our house again.


We used Alton Brown's recipe for roasted turkey, same as last year. I think I'd go so far as to say that this year's bird was even better than last year's! We figured out how to take the giblets out of the bird before putting it in the oven. Funny how that produces better results. And, as an added bonus, we actually had a roasting pan this year as opposed to a cookie sheet with a broiler plate on top.

As was the case last year, we had a very diverse Thanksgiving. We had delegations from England, China, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, and Iran this year. Along with all the regular Americans, of course.


We even had a feline guest! Escobar, the homeless kitty, came with one of our guests who was hoping he would win the heart of someone living in our house. Unfortunately for Escobar, it was no dice. With most of us looking for a new home ourselves, we just couldn't commit to taking in a stray that would just need to be re-homed again in a few months.

After the dinner, we were able to hook up to a website that streams football games and we watched the Lions vs. the Packers while enjoying a little hookah. That was one Thanksgiving tradition I could definitely see becoming a yearly thing!

9. It finally got cold enough to wear a jacket
.

The date was November 26th, to be exact. We'd spent Thanksgiving with the doors and windows wide open to catch the nice warm breeze. And two days later we walked out and had to grab some warmer clothes before heading to the car.

8. We got one day off from school...for a rain storm that never came.


November 27th was an even more brisk day, so I shouldn't have been shocked when at 10pm that night I got a text message from a colleague telling me school had been cancelled for the next day.

"What?! Why?!"

"Forecast calls for a big rainstorm."

That's right. There was the prediction that it was going to rain. So they called off school. Works for us! All our teacher friends will agree that a day off is a day off, you don't question the system. You just turn off your alarm and enjoy the wonders of sleeping in on a week day.

When I finally woke up around 9 am the next day, I listened for the sound of car tires slushing through puddles outside.

...and I heard nothing.

It finally did rain, but not until 3 or 4 o'clock, when we would have been out of school anyway. I imagined our school administration collectively rolling their eyes as they made it clear to everyone that, rain or shine, we would be going to school the next day.

Here's a video of the deluge:


video


7. Ironically, we got a cat.


No offense to Escobar, who was a perfectly lovely guest cat, but Kitty has been working her wiles on me for about a year. She was living in the school yard of the girls school, and a colleague decided to capture her, get her spayed, and try to find her a home. So the Mister and I are fostering her until she can find a place to live permanently.


Of course, with a face like this, we're not in a big hurry to give her away. Who knows. If we find a new home in a country that doesn't have crazy strict pet immigration laws, we might just take her with us.


6. I went to the States...for a week.


Yep. In the middle of the quarter, I flew to Charleston to see one of my best friends in the world get married. It took 24 hours of travel both ways, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

First of all, it was just really nice to get out of the Kingdom again. And to get to spend a week in one of my most favorite places on Earth just made it that much nicer.


Of course, the company was none too shabby, either. These are my 3 best friends. We lived together for 2 years in college in Charleston. Courtney, the other brunette, was the bride.


Here she is, signing her life away!! Can you believe this was less than an hour before her vows!? She looked so calm!


She was absolutely beautiful in her wedding gown, which fit her like a glove. The DJ was awesome and played some Spring Street dance party classics! It's amazing how after all these years I still know every word to hits such as "My Humps," and "Drop It Like It's Hot." That was one night I was so sad to see come to an end.


One perk of getting to spend a little more time in Charleston after the wedding: reuniting with my long lost love. Going to college in Charleston was much more than just getting a degree. I think every College of Charleston grad forms a relationship with the city itself. I have so many memories all over that city and I had a great time strolling around the Battery and through the Market with 2 of my best friends.


No visit to Charleston is complete without a photo shoot in front of the pineapple fountain!


...and a few lazy minutes on the swings at the harbor park.


5. We turned old.


With our birthdays being just 4 days apart, the Mister and I share the celebration. In high school, we took ourselves out to an expensive dinner (more than FIFTY bucks!! That was high society for two high school seniors!).  In college, one of us would make the road trip to the other and we'd go on a date (or...a dinner between two friends for those years we weren't dating each other but were still very much in love). This year, since we're grown and far away from family, we rented a hotel room for a night and had a little staycation in Bahrain.

We've been Christmas babies our entire lives, but it's funny how living here makes us forget about the season. We walked in to the hotel lobby with just 10 days to go before Christmas and were like little kids when we saw the huge Christmas tree all lit up.

We still took ourselves out to a nice dinner and had a great time watching the Food Network (in English!!) and Ninja Warrior (dubbed, but still awesome) while sitting around in fluffy hotel robes.

4. We discovered the Friday Brunch


And it has BACON! Part of our birthday weekend was full-on gluttony. We had heard about the Friday brunch from some friends in Saudi Arabia and decided to add it to our celebration agenda.  Boy howdy are we glad we did!!


It's an all-you-can-eat buffet with lots of international flair. Most of the big hotels in Bahrain have a brunch, and we were very impressed with our first experience. There was an egg station, a waffle station, sushi, hot dishes, and oh the desserts! So decadent!


This brunch was definitely worth the cost. In fact, we enjoyed brunching so much that we went back this past weekend, and took a housemate with us! I smell a monthly tradition forming!!

3. We went to a fantastic Christmas party.


The weekend before Christmas a couple of our friends invited us to their Christmas dinner. Being that we live in Saudi Arabia and they live in Narnia (at least that's what we call it, it's so different from the Magic Kingdom!), we gladly accepted their invitation. We were eager to have the chance to get a little bit of the holiday spirit before it was packed away again for another year. 


After a wonderful meal and a rousing round of "The Twelve Days of Christmas," we had a secret Santa, complete with the jolly old elf himself! Then we played some games and just enjoyed each other's company. It was so nice to get to let loose with a bunch of adults for a little while.

2. I started scrapbooking again.



While in Charleston, I stocked up on scrapbooking supplies and brought home the thousands of photos I'd ordered through Snapfish (that my mother was kind enough to ship to me in Charleston!). I figured I have TONS of free time over here, I might as well start recording some of these memories. I confess, I'm really making this scrapbook for posterity (although, isn't that always why one makes a scrapbook). It's really important to me that our kids, if we have any, see what we were like before they were born. That it's ok to take a few years between the wedding and the kids and have a great time with your spouse. And that their parents actually did do fun and adventurous things once upon a time.

It's been fun to scrapbook again. I didn't realize how many things I'd forgotten and how FAT we were when we first moved to Saudi Arabia! That was a nice unintentional side effect of scrapping! I now have a "before" photo, and I didn't even realize it!

1. We celebrated Christmas, expat style.


Being that we live in the land of Islam, Christmas was just a regular work day for us. Honestly, I'm fine with that. We moved here to engross ourselves in another culture, and Christmas is not a part of that culture. I didn't expect to have Christmas off when we moved here, so while I was a little weirded out to be working, it wasn't that bad. By the time we got home from work, our families were waking up in America. So we put on our Christmas pajamas (given to us, as is tradition, by my parents on Christmas Eve), took a quick nap, and woke up to skype with the fam!  It was just like the real thing!


Of course, the real thing has significantly less awkward pauses and garbled words because of the hiccups in the internet...but it was still nice to see some familiar faces and to open presents at the same time as our families.

Vicariously yours,








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