Swimming, Medals, School trip and Birthdays!

Well we have been busy bunnies since my last post! A has been busy winning medals and trophies, M has had his 5th birthday, and I’ve been busy with work and shopping!!!!

Firstly swimming is finally over (well at lest for A) for the season. So we can have a bit of normality back. A took part in the ‘B’ Regionals a couple of weeks ago which resulted in 2 Gold medals, 1 Silver medal, 2 PB’s, 1 DQ, 1 A Regional qualifying time (RQT) and a 3rd place over all trophy! So overall it was a very good day, but meant we had to drag ourselves to training for another week, to prepare for the A’s the following weekend! So A had more medals to add to the football one she received the previous evening.

So we needed an early start (6.15) to drive to Ras Tanura (about an hour away) for A to swim in 2 races (well 3 including the relay). She was never going to get any medals or trophies from the A’s, but she did get 2 PB’s so it was reasonably, worthwhile! And as her coach told her “Apart from the nationals, it’s the biggest meet you can take part in Saudi Arabia”, so that bucked her up a bit! As it was late when we got back we just ordered from the restaurant.

On the Friday we took the kids to Burger Fuel – Max’s favourite place to eat – he was banging on the door wanting to get in, but as usual here, it didn’t open at 12.30 as stated, more like gone 1 o’clock. Absolute rubbish especially when prayer time is finishing just after 12 at the moment! Once they eventually opened, we had a little tantrum as they did not open the upstairs and that is where the TV and Xbox are located, as well as all the colouring pencils and pictures, so we had 2 very sulky children on our hands! After that we headed for our usual Friday afternoon lounge by the pool and home for dinner and a movie.

Saturday saw me attempting to make Max’s birthday cake and cookies to take to school, as well as present wrapping and printing off birthday cards (you don’t get birthday cards here, – well ToysRus had very few! – also the card my parents sent 3 months ago never turned up – I did warn them!) The first batch of Cornish Fairings I made, I left in the oven just a little too long, so they were rather well done! So I decided to make some chocolate chip cookies instead and found an easyish eggless recipe online, which turned out alright (thank goodness!) The actual cake turned out not too bad too (well for me anyway!) It was the marshmallow fondant icing that was the problem! My god, I am never making that again! I followed the recipe to the letter, but no matter how much I kneaded that bloody stuff it was still too flipping sticky! I tried all sorts to try make it soft and smooth.

I used loads of butter on my hands and the counter top. Didn’t work!

I put it in the fridge. Didn’t work!

I used loads and loads and loads of icing sugar! It worked a little bit, but there was icing sugar everywhere, on the cooker, on the floor in the draws, I was totally covered in it! By the time the kids came home, I was read to throw the cake out the window!!! The kids quietly got on with their home work, while I shouted all manner of things at the flipping icing. I finally managed to get the icing on the cake and put it together in a sort of ‘Red Samurai Power Ranger’ style and went for a shower to wash away all the icing sugar!

Once the home work was finished the kids decided it was safe to enter the kitchen, and viewed the finished cake!

And M’s reaction – “Where’s the mouth?”

I replied “There was no mouth on the pictures I used.”

To which, he went to his bedroom got his Red Samurai Power Ranger and said “Well this ones got a mouth!” Great!

So I gave him the option of the following

  1. have a red power ranger cake with a mouth and risk the whole thing go out the window and no birthday cake; or
  2. keep the cake as it is and definitely have a birthday cake.

Luckily he chose the latter!

Friday was M’s 5th Birthday, after a month (could possibly be more!) of waking up and asking “Is it my birthday today?” Followed by a mini tantrum with stamping feet when he was told “No”. The day was finally here. Off he ran to the sitting room, only for us to hear “Oh, there’s nothing there!” To which G replied “It’s not Christmas! You can have you presents once you have eaten your breakfast, brushed your teeth and have got dressed.” All which were done in record time!

So M opened his presents and was very happy with his Ben 10 toys, it was only only later he asked where the Lizard man from Spider-man was, which was the one thing we couldn’t get!

He happily went to the bus with some of his new Ben 10 figures for him and the other younger ones to play with, and the older kids sang Happy Birthday to him, which was very sweet, but he was totally embarressed.

So I then had the rest of the day to sort stuff out and go to yoga, bliss! While I was at yoga I thought I would check at reception one last time to see if M’s birthday card had turned up. No birthday card but I had received a letter from HMRC asking me to fill in a Tax Return, god they will find you anywhere won’t they!

Once the children were home, it was homework again, we skyped with grandparents so they could wish M a happy birthday. G came home early so we headed to the pool where M had to have his swimming lesson first – not happy about that one – then he could try out his new pool toys (blow up jet ski, shark water gun and sinky toys). After the pool it was time for a quick change and then headed off to the restaurant for a birthday dinner.

Monday was a great day. Body Pump, a quick shower, reflexology appointment (giving not receiving :-( ) to which I was given tea and cheesecake before we started (a Mothers Day present, as it was Austrailian, American and South African Mothers Day the day before, the British one passed without note in our house!!!). We then ordered the buffet lunch from the restaurant to be delivered and got enough food for dinner as well (for SR25 (£4) you get one portion of soup and bread rolls, large salad, grilled fish with a mountain of rice and some veg (either courgette or okra, not quite sure, could have been both!), cake and fruit salad), I shall be ordering that more often! Then we just sat and gabbed until the school bus arrived, it was so nice not to have to drag the kids off the bus and into the house, get changed, grab swim bag and jump in the taxi to go to swimming! So we leisurely did home work, got tea sorted and watched a film. It was lovely! Apart from A coming home with her new shoes in bits! That’ll teach her to go shopping with her father on her own!!!

Tuesday was yoga again, and the thing Mrs Cory had me doing!!! Including rolling on to my side in the bow pose! After yoga I had two Indian Head Massages, with two new lovely ladies, who like our compound so much they wanted to move here!

As we now had to go new school shoes shopping that evening, the kids had an early tea so we could leave as soon as G got home. All in all it took an hour to drive there (M fell asleep!) walk to the Clarks shop (carrying M!), choose shoes (not that hard as they only had on shoe in a size 2! While I made sure the shoes fitted properly, (they weren’t quite up to Pogo’s standards, but not too bad, just not tight enough at the front, at least Jo has taught me well on how they should fit properly!) G and M went to the look in the shop opposite which ses fantastic bedroom furniture. M was very intersted in the racing car bed and chest of drawers that looked like a petrol pump!) , walk back to the car (with a screaming child, that said he was hungry!) and drive home. Collapse!

Wednesday was a shopping day, armed with my list, I headed to the mall to get 2 birthday presents, for 2 of the birthday parties that weekend, and party food, plates, cups etc for M’s party on the Friday. Some how managed it all, as well as getting it on the bus, and back home! While shopping I received a text from a friend who was in urgent need of an Indian Head Massage (her son was having a big sleepover that evening and she had little movement in her neck and shoulders!), so headed there after lunch.

That afternoon/evening saw the first party of the weekend, where by every child in the compound was invited! The kids enjoyed themselves, but G was his usual anti socials self and went home! He did come back later and had some food, but the took M home as was fed up of the party, after half an hour in the pool he’d had enough and wanted to get changed and just play with the ball he’d been given (as every child had been given a ball at the beginning of the party). I finally dragged A out of the pool at 7.20 to go home!

Thursday, I spent the morning making sausage rolls for M’s party, as well getting other stuff ready, after lunch it was time to take A to her friends party at Al Rashid Mall (I wasn’t looking forward to it as I got lost last time I went!). M also now needed some new trainers for P.E. as he was complaining the others were getting a little tight, and was looking forward to going to the funfair there. After walking into the party venue M was immediately dragging me out saying “I want to go get my trainers!” So I gave my apologies to the parents for just dumping A on them and left in search of sports shops. We came across Footlocker first, so had a look in there, not much of a range for a 5 year old and also pretty expensive £30+, so we left as M was picking up Polo shoes, saying “My Friends got these!” We eventually found Sketchers and found ones he liked that were not too expensive – £25, as I was paying I noticed some slip-on trainers, just what I’d been looking for some for years since my Merrell ones had finally given up the ghost several years before (well I did buy them pre children!) So much to M’s disgust as he wanted to go to the funfair, I started to try on some trainers myself, I settled on a pair of silver/grey ones. I then tired to talk M into going to get a drink before heading to the funfair but he was having none of it!

On arrival at the funfair (next to the party venue, and yes we did get lost, but think I’ve sussed it now!) luckily, we bumped into a friend of M’s from school (and younger brother of A’s best friend at school). So then that was it, they went on every ride going (which surprised me as M is a bit of a wimp when it comes to rides! He loves them once he’s on but, just refuses to take the first step and get on!) His face was a classic on the rollercoaster, he would have never gone on there on his own or with his sister, but when it went round a rather fast curly bit for the first time I thought he was going to burst into tears, but by the fouth time round he had a big smile on his face! We finally managed to drag them off the rides with the promise of icecream, and managed to sit down.

After icecream the rides had shut for prayer so the boys entertained themselves by racing each other up and down a sort of long corridor, fighting, wrestling, boxing, my goodness they were being rough, but apparently they do it all the time at school!

Once the party had finished, we collected the girls and took them to a shop called Justice, where the sell very 80’s type clothes. So they could choose their outfits for ‘Dhahran’s Got Talent’ a school talent contest. They are singing ‘I knew you were trouble’ by Taylor Swift. I am sick of hearing it already and we have about 5 weeks to go! I don’t think they could have picked a harder song!

Then it was time to go home. I was hoping to have a good look round the mall seen as I have quite a few appointments the last 2 weeks. I was half way to a Marc Jacobs bag until I had to buy new school shoes, new school trainers, 2 birthday presents, party food, taxi rides, funfair rides and a talent show outfit. At least I managed to get a pair of trainers out of it! Oh well!

Friday hailed the day of M’s party. G and A went off to get the last few things we needed, while I got the last few bit of food ready for the party.

The party went well, although all M was interested in was presents! He was happy enough playing in the pool until friends started turning up with presents, then he just got changed and looked at his presents! All in all the parents had a good gab and the kids exhaused themselves in the pool, well except M, he just wanted to go home to play with his new toys after the food, so G took him home. Once I manage to extricate A from the pool she dissapeared off to a friends house to play, and I got home to find M playing with his new toys while watching Return of the Jedi. Good lad!

Well thar’s it for now, here’s hoping I earn enough soon for a Marc Jacobs bag!!!

Holidays!

Well the last few weeks have been filled with tantrums, water parks, wild life parks, movies, earthquakes and parties, for the kids! Unfortunately, my life isn’t as exciting as that but I did get a few GnT’s in!

Firstly we decided to buy the kids netbooks, so they could watch films and play games etc on the journey to Bahrain. Even though it’s pretty close it can take several hours to cross the causeway, this way they would be entertained if we got stuck. So after a bit of research and I found one that I thought would do them, plus it was half the price here in Saudi, than it was back home! So we took the kids to buy them (so they could choose which colour they wanted). Max had a total meltdown when he realised what we were buying! At which point he started screaming ‘I don’t want that one, I want an iPad!’ We tried to calm him down by telling him, he would be able to get more films and games on the netbook, but no he sat on the floor screaming ‘I want an iPad!’ After 10 minutes, he calmed down enough to chose a black Asus! He is now very happy with his new Windows 8 netbook and constantly wants to play on it, now his sister has shown him Friv!

A didn’t do to much swimming training the first week of the holidays, as the kids wanted to play with friends and attend the pool party that a friend had organised!

Luckily for us the journey across the causeway was fast and easy, with no problems, so we were at the hotel by about 9.30 am, luckily again our room was ready so we could go straight up and unpack. By 10 O’clock we were kicking our heels so headed to the malls to see what there was. After a quick refueling at Costa we headed for the cinema to see what was on for the week and had a wander round, unfortunately the kids found the fun fair, so we had to stay there for a while, most of it spent in the giant play area.

They play area in the mall

They play area in the mall

Kids in the play area in the mall

Kids in the play area in the mall

The kids also wanted to go on the bumper cars, but they were the only ones on there, so not too much fun, so the guy got in to another of the cars and bumped into them a couple of times!

The kids on the bumper cars.

The kids on the bumper cars.

Even G got in on the act!

G and the kids racing Ferrari's!

G and the kids racing Ferrari’s!

For lunch we found a pizza place where the kids could make their own pizza’s (which suited M as he doesn’t like cheese!) So A had a teddy bear pizza and M a dinosaur, both were very impressed with the flashing glasses that their drinks arrived in.

Pizza time!

Pizza time!

Both demolished their pizza’s which was good and unexpected, and headed back to the hotel. G went off to find a supermarket – to get milk and wine,  but no wine – after an internet search I found out that although you can get alcohol in hotels, you cannot buy it in supermarkets!

For dinner we found a great organic shop and cafe in the mall, A had pizza, yet again! I had a fantastic Laksa.

We all went back to the hotel and settled down for the evening, I finally got my long awaited GnT (a double! I needed it after 4 months without!) and ordered a couple of bottles of red from room service! Bliss!

The following day  we headed south to see if we could take a look at the GP circuit, but couldn’t, so we headed to a nearby wildlife park. It cost about £5 for us all. The first thing we saw were a load of mallards in a pond. A’s reaction was ‘Well, we can see these at home!’ LOL There was also lots of goats! When we arrived at the wolf enclosure they were all lounging around in the sun until a group of very excited primary children arrived, then they perked up and starting running around like crazy, I think lunch had arrived!!!

After lunch (ours not the wolves!) we took the kids to the cinema. We just picked the film that was starting soonest (which was 1 minute later) after purchasing the tickets we were told the film was actually on at the cinema at the other end of the mall, and this is a big mall! So we had to leg it to the other end quick, luckily we got there just as it started. the film wasn’t brill, in fact M fell asleep, but meant we didn’t feel the earth tremor from the earthquake in Iran due to vibrations from the sound. After that we headed back to the hotel to chill. We couldn’t be bothered with going out for dinner, so just ordered room service and watched a film.

The next day we had promised the kids we’d go to the indoor water park that was in the next mall.

Surf dude!

Surf dude!

So we had a mooch round the shops in the other mall before heading to there, for a couple of hours we thought. 5 and a half hours later we were still trying to drag the kids out of there! As the kids in Bahrain were at school, the place wasn’t very busy. A went on everything,

Surf dudette!

Surf dudette!

M who was too small to do the big slides loved the place, but was very grumpy he wasn’t allowed on the big slides!

They loved getting soaked by the big bucket that tipped water periodically.

Waiting for the bucket to tip.

Waiting for the bucket to tip.

Its coming...

Its coming…

Soaked!

Soaked!

All done.

All done.

We slummed it for tea and just had junk food! Hey we were on holiday!

As the kids had enjoyed the water park sooooo much, they refused to go anywhere else the following day. So we had to go back, but at least we only were there for 3 hours this time! After a visit to Lakeland (for some scales and a bread knife) we headed back to the other mall for an afternoon at the cinema.

We had lunch at a Brazillian resturant, it was the biggest lunch I think we had ever had! After a of a whole load of starters, they brought out the main, again and again and again, we had 10 different types of meat and fish! We had Chicken (one spicy one not), Turkey, Duck, Lamb, Beef (Two Types), Prawns and Fish, everything but Pork!!!! We could hardly move after, I couldn’t even find room for the pile proffiterols located just behind me!

So after lunch we headed back to the cinema. Again we had to run the full length of the mall to get to the screen showing the movie! Supprisingly after the lunch we had had, we all stayed awake!

For dinner we went back to the organic place where we had eaten on the first night, then after a little bit of shopping we headed back to the hotel for my last few GnT’s as we we’re heading home the next morning.

We had another easy crossing on the causeway, I think we would have had a hard time at customs, as they were starting to go through everything, when the guy who was in the car beside us started making a big fuss. So they decided to let us go and concentrate on him instead! Result, not that we had anything, just wanted to get home.

So after unpacking, doing the washing, it was time to get ready for the birthday party the kids where going to. Also we were going to nip to Ikea in between prayer times to get something for M’s bedroom, luckily we timed it just right and got to the till just before they shut for prayer.

The party the kids went to was at an amazing place, one that I didn’t even know existed!

Upstairs from a weird furniture store (think gold ornate thrones!), there is a fantastic kids play place. It has 10 different rooms to play in. One room even has a big pond in it which the kids get to drive inflatable boats round like bumper cars!

The kids had a great time cooking, painting plant pots, driving the inflatable boats, and playing in two of the big play areas! The good thing about the party was the kids were taken away and no parents (or nannies) were allowed into the rooms with the kids, so it meant I could do some shopping (only for printer cartridges!)

The following day A had a swim meet, G went into work, so as usual, I had to do my alloted task (luckily just selling food and drink!), try to keep M happy and make sure A got to her races on time! She did pretty well, with personal bests in all her races and only a couple of seconds off the regional qualifing times for some of the races.

Friday was just food shopping and relaxing by the pool, ready to get organised for school the next day.

The first week back at school was pretty uneventful, except for another earth tremor from the second earthquake in Iran. A said she felt something while at school, but I was too busy kneading bread!

Thursday saw another swim meet, only one PB this time, but edgeing closer to qualifying times. We have the ‘B’ regionals in a couple of week, with medals and trophies so maybe that might make her go faster to qualify for the A’s!

Friday we headed down to the Corniche to see if M could ride his bike without his stablizers. First go and he was off (thanks to him having a balance bike before having a pedal bike!) so in no time he was riding round the Corniche, he just cannot set off himself. As it was starting to get hot, we headed home and had lunch from the resturant by the pool!

Life’s tough!!!!

Another hospital visit!

Again my apologies for not keeping up my blog, again it has been a busy time!

Firstly, there was the school Spring Fair, which I didn’t get to see anything of!  Seen as I spent most of it painting flowers, spiders, ladybirds and teenage ninja turtles, etc on kids faces. It’s not like I’m any good at it! Even though one mum asked if I did parties!!! Also, it was a typical British school fair, as it rained, occasionally not only did it rain, it  bucketed down! Not good when your outside painting faces! At least that is it for the rest of the school year, no more big events. That will save my back, which was killing me with all the bending over, I so needed a massage after that, unfortunately couldn’t get an appointment (the only free appointments where when I had reflexology appointments), so I am still waiting to use the money G gave me for massages for my birthday at Christmas.

Then there has been the shopping!

I finally got the kids some bedding. I somehow managed (more by luck than anything else) to get M some Black Spiderman (Spiderman 3) bedding, although he wasn’t convinced as the picture shown on the packet was different to the bedding on display, so refused to accept that they were the same, even though the man in the shop assured him it was! The only way I could get him to accept was to say if it isn’t the same we’ll bring it back, to which he agreed. A picked some pink, flowery bedding, but then regretted it afterwards (she has really gone of pink and flowery, so no idea why she picked it!). As there is a new sewing class has started I intend to go to that and try to make a few things to tone down the pinkness!

I have also picked out a few things for me to along the way too, I can’t be left out can I?

A also had another swim meet, she did very well at this one, and got four PB’s.

We have also had another eventful trip to the hospital, as A has had an ear infection for a couple of weeks that keeps coming and going, so I decided it was time for anti-biotics to get it cleared up.

G had taken us to Saad Hospital to register a few weeks previously as our insurance was accepted anywhere. This hospital doesn’t look like any hospital that I have seen, one it is enormous, and two it is more like a 5 star hotel than a hospital! It has enormous chandeliers everywhere, and a big pond with the biggest Koi I have ever seen in the lobby, plus even has a spa in it!

We spoke to one of the customer liaisons who informed us that we could only register when we made an appointment, so seen as none of use needed to see a doctor we couldn’t register, so we left.

So now that one of us finally needed a doctor I made A an appointment for the following day after school. I got the bus to the school and organised a driver to pick us all up from school and then went straight to the hospital. We went straight up to pediatrics (as friends had told us to do, they also told me it had a Costa Coffee in it, and warned me that would be needed after all the hassle and amount of time it takes to see the appointment through, they reckoned a couple of hours, to have the have the insurance authorised, see the nurse, doctor and get any medication needed from the pharmacy!) Then we attempted to get a receptionist to acknowledge us, which was difficult, just like doctors receptionist back home too! When we finally were acknowledged, we were told to go back downstairs to register. So off we trotted back down to do it, after being passed from one person to the next we finally got a guy to process the registration, yeah! They don’t make it easy for you here sometimes, I think the do it just to p*** you off! Anyway, the guy eventually came back and told us that he didn’t think G’s company’s insurance company was accepted at that hospital, so I was well happy! After a phone call to G, we decided to try another hospital that we knew accepted the insurance as a colleague of G’s had been their.

So I rang the driver and asked him to come back for us and take us to the other hospital, which he obligingly did, and the Koi kept the kids amused while we waited.

On to hospital number 2, which is a much newer hospital and one I had heard good things about, (unlike the other, where I had heard several stories including the following. A few days before, a client of mine from the compound had given birth, they wouldn’t give her the needed epidural until her husband had been and paid for it. When he had eventually returned with the paperwork to say he had paid for the epidural, it was too late! So he had to go back for a refund later!)

When we got there I liked the new immediately, it’s a new hospital and is light, and airy (Saad is just so dark). I enquired at reception if it was possible to see a doctor there and then or would we have to make and appointment. The guy on reception was pretty helpful and told us to go to pediatrics and ask if one of the doctors would see us. If they would we could organise the registration. He said that there would be no receptionist about, so to just wait until some one turned up. After waiting for 10/15 mins (luckily I was prepared with snacks and drinks due to the possible length of wait at Saad) in the empty waiting room, a nurse appeared. I explained the situation, and she went to see the doctor, who agreed to see us. So Off I trotted to fill in the paperwork. Our insurance was accepted (whoop, whoop!) of which there is a 20% excess, so I had to pay SR12 (£2) to see the doctor.

Once all the paperwork was done (just over 5 mins, which included a tantrum by M in the entrance to the hospital, as he needed the toilet but didn’t want A to take him!) I went back through to hand the stuff to the nurse, who then took A through to have her weight, height and temperature checked (apparently they do this for every doctors visit). Then we went to see the doctor. Who was a very nice lady doctor, she asked A what was wrong, which she replied ‘I’ve got an ear infection’ the doctor asked ‘How did she know and was she was a doctor?’ A said ‘Mummy said I have!’ So she looked in the ear which was hurting the least and said ‘Yes, you have and ear infection.’ A replied ‘The other ear is worse!’ Which the doctor agreed with.

So we were given a prescription of anti-biotics, ear drops and kids ibuprofen. A was asked if she wanted a sick note for school, surprisingly she said ‘No’, and of we went to the pharmacy. I had to pay (SR 38) just over £6 for 10 days worth (5 bottles!) of Anti-biotics, ear drops and ibuprofen. I guess it would have been £31 without the insurance.

So then I took the kids to the coffee shop in the entrance (seen as M had screamed every time we went passed it as he wanted to go in!) M wanted a kids hot chocolate, A as iced chocolate and I just had a tea.

Once we were half way though I rang the driver to pick us up, as he was just finishing another job we had to wait a for a while. Typically I had just taken M to the toilet, as the driver rang to say he was at the front door of the hospital! Anyway we were finally on our way home, after two hours and two hospitals!

Nothing else of real note has happened, I am now going to look for hotels in Bahrain for Spring Break (we can’t call it Easter due to it being a Christian holiday) and munch on the biscuit/sweets that the Crown prince of Kuwait gave G on Thursday. They need to be eaten within a month, the kids won’t touch them (even when he told A that that’s what Arabian Princesses eat!), and my attempt at trying to get rid of them at a coffee morning backfired, friends just brought more stuff round to eat, so now I have even more cakes and biscuits to eat!

A busy two weeks – Part 2 – Week 10!!!

This week we have shopping – taking the kids to Mall of Dhahran by my self and getting the weirdest tea in the world!!! Plus we finally get the kids new bikes and both A & M have their Sports Days!

OMG!!!! We’ve now been here 10 weeks!

Well the kids think they’re locals by wearing jumper or fleeces in 30+ degree heat! trying to extricate M from his school fleece is a job and a half, he was even sat there in it watching A’s sports day in the baking heat, while everyone else stripped off!

As the kids had two days holiday this week (that was their half term!!!) I decided to take them to the Mall of Dhahran, as I wanted to start to try and make their bedrooms a bit more homely, so I thought we would go choose some bedding. So off we went on the bus. M was very pleased to see it was their school bus driver taking us to the Mall, giving Burhan a big hug as he got on the bus and another just before we got off!

As we got to the Mall pretty early (not sure why the bus drops you off at 9.00 when the shops don’t start opening until at least 9.30) we had a quick walk round working out which shops were where, that we wanted to visit. Then we headed to Costa for a drink before the shops opened. As it was a holiday I let the kids have fruit shoots and I ordered a hot tea, with cold milk. Now this may sound simple, but I have ordered several cups of hot tea, but never got cold milk, always hot frothy milk! Anyway I was pretty hopeful this time as the receipt said ‘Hot tea with cold milk’ and was asked if I would like the cold milk separate, which I thought was best as I could always send the milk back if it was warm.

So of we went to sit in the Women/Family area of the cafe and waited and waited for my hot tea! it seems that the 5 guys behind the counter were run off their feet by the 3 customers who tipped up after me! When my drink finally came I was aghast, I just stared at it in disbelief!

What I had placed before me was a large cup of cold milk with a tea bag stuck it it!!!

I thought maybe they have just put load of milk in it, so I my finger in it, NO definitely cold milk with a tea bag! So off I trot to the counter, to try to articulate once again HOT TEA, COLD MILK. So after another wait (by which time the shops were well and truly open) I got my HOT TEA with COLD MILK in a separate cup, result, the only problem was that the tea cup was that full I couldn’t get any milk in the cup (probably did that deliberately!) So after spooning the milk in gradually and adding sugar (only way I can drink HOT, HOT tea) I could take a few sips and therefore add more milk! Finally I manage to drink it all, so it was now on to shopping!

First we went to Pottery Barn Kids to look at bedding, well I wish I didn’t! The stuff in there is lovely, but seriously £80 for 2 sheets and two pillowcases!

I thought I would try a cheaper shop Zara Home, but again 2 sheets and 2 pillowcases over £80!

So all we came away with was some flip-flops for A and some cereal from Panda! As we had a few minutes before the bus came to pick us up the children decided to sit down and watch Tom and Jerry that was playing on one of the TV screens, only problem was it was right in the way of the main walk way!

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They caused chaos! There were people bumping into each other, people walking into trollies, as they were looking at them and not where they were going! It was so funny! A gave up and left M just sat there on his own which then prompted people trying to talk to him (he was having none of it! Even some of the staff came and sat with him, but he just ignored them!) When the bus arrived there was another big hug for Burhan from M (I never get big hugs like that! He was probably glad to just get out of that place!)

We didn’t go swimming in the evening (can’t remember why), so we had a play in the park as there were quite a few kids there, and I could have a gab with the other mum’s. G came home for work early for a change as it had been around 8/9 o’clock in recent days! and announced he was taking the following day off, and we were going to the restaurant to eat!

Sunday started well with M (practicing for Sports day the next day) running to the bathroom to clean his teeth, he didn’y notice the door was shut and ran straight into the door handle and split his head open! Such fun!

Luckily it wasn’t too bad, and had nearly stopped bleeding by the time we were going shopping. We tried a different supermarket ‘Farm’ this time. G was much happier as it was cheaper than the others but not much choice! No Salami or fresh meat, but the veg section was okay, so we only spent SR 300 (£50). There was also quite an interesting restaurant next to it!

A restaurant in Khobar!

A restaurant in Khobar!

Once we’d taken the shopping home, we headed back to Mall of Dhahran as we had decided to try and get the kids bikes and bean bags, we were in luck with the bikes but not bean bags! So we got M a little cheapy bike (SR 300, £50) and A ‘an all singing, dancing one’ (SR 650, £100), they were very happy with them. Although I think there is a spelling mistake on M’s bike!

LOL, spelling on M's new bike!

LOL, spelling on M’s new bike!

So the rest of the day was spent putting the bikes together and riding them round the compound! A now has to go everywhere on her bike, including the pool (100m away, if that!) Once tea was out the way we all sat down to watch ‘Hugo’ with popcorn, not that G or I got a look in!

Monday was back to school and my 2nd bus monitor duty, much better than the first one. No Body Pump due to M’s Sports Day, they have it early as it is far too hot to do later in the year like at home. It all went pretty well due except M’s hat kept blowing off, so he kept going off to retrieve it, plus it took me a couple of races to realise the green team was always coming last as the had one extra than the other teams!

M at Sports Day

M at Sports Day

Tuesday was PVG (Parents Voluntary Group) meeting at school and also A’s Sports Day. So I got the bus to school with the kids (which was a bad move, as had I come home I would have noticed A’s PE kit still sitting on the coffee table in the sitting room!) PVG Meeting was all laid back even though it is only 3 weeks to the biggest event of the year and not everything is confirmed yet!

Once finished we headed to KS2 Sports Day, only to find A in tears as she had realised forgotten her kit! Luckily the school shop was open (it’s not usually open on Tuesdays) and I had the money (I finally got an SR 500 (£85) note changed, as that is all I had and no shop would accept it as it was too big!), so I could purchase a new kit, but she had to run in her school shoes! As there were only 4 members of the green team in year 4 A and another boy had to run all the races twice (except the basketball dribble A refused to do that one twice, as she’s not that good at it!) as all the other teams had 6 members. Green’s came second, but there was only a few points in it.

A taking part in Sports Day, running in school shoes!

A taking part in Sports Day, running in school shoes!

M sat in his fleece during a very warm sports day!

M sat in his fleece during a very warm sports day!

Wednesday was just back to Reflexology and tidying up!

Thursday, G was working – for a change! So the kids played out on their new bikes and rollerskates and scooters, we decided to have lunch in the restaurant for a change. While we were there A heard the (stupid) music playing (popular tunes played on the piano, think bad Richard Clayderman!) and recognised ‘Chariots of Fire’ then later she said ‘Is this Eastenders music?’ Which it was, I didn’t even know she knew what Eastenders was! Then it was off to the pool after lunch.

When G came home we decided to go the the Farm shop again to do the shop and the go to one of the resturants near ther. It all would have gone perfectly, but for one small hiccup. Unlike the other supermarkets where you can still shop during prayer time, just not buy anything, you cannot in Farm, you have to leave the shop! So with the supermarket and all the resturants shut for prayers, we had no option but to go home and order Fish and Chips from the restaurant.

Sunday we went to Tamimi to do the shop, and I finally got hold of some Tampax, so I bought 3 boxes of the multipacks (it did cost £20, though!) After we had taken the shopping home, the kids wanted to go to the Corniche with there bikes. We just managed to get the bikes, and the kids in the car (A was happy as she got to sit in one of the 3rd row seats!)

M, G & A at the Corniche with their new bikes. With the new building known locally as 'The Water Tower' in the back ground.

M, G & A at the Corniche with their new bikes. With the new building known locally as ‘The Water Tower’ in the back ground.

After a very long bike ride we headed to a restaurant for lunch, then home and to the pool!

And that is it for this busy fortnight! I shall try to write next’s weeks earlier!

Bye for now.

A busy two weeks – Part 1 – Week 9

Firstly I must apologise for the lateness of this post! Due to illnesses,school holidays and sports days, I just haven’t had time to write the blog!

Well two weeks ago, is far too long ago for me to actually remember what we actually got up to! Probably just tidying up!

As it was World Book Week, there were a few things going on at school, on the Saturday M was having a tea party at school so they had to dress up as their favorite book character and take a plate of food that the character would like to eat. M wanted to go as ‘The Gruffalo’ and take a plate of mice, but seen as I had no way of making a Gruffalo costume in a couple of days, he went as Spider-man, and took some shortbread with a web design on them (he wasn’t very impressed with my web design, I can tell you!)

A had developed an ear infection which meant no swimming for a few days, so she was well enough to take part in the swimming meet on Valentines day.

Monday 2 weeks ago I did my first Bus Monitor duty, the bus ride with 18 kids aged 4 to 12 wasn’t too bad. It was the little ones who were the worst! Arguing and shouting, I thought letting them play with my phone would keep them quiet, but just made them argue more as to who’s turn it was next! The security checks were daunting as I am not really sure what I am looking for! The check consists of going round the bus with one of the security guards holding a mirror, so you can check under the bus, in the boot and in the fuel tank, looking for bombs! As the school is on the same site as the US consulate, there are strict security checks once you get to the site!

Anyway all went well, I didn’t return to the compound on the bus, as A was doing her Year 4 Assembly, about Chinese New Year. Amelia was a Pig/Boar in the Assembly and had a couple of lines, on the whole the 8 and 9 year olds did very well! I loved the slow-mo re-enactment of the race to ‘chariots of Fire’!

A as a Chinese Pig in her school assembly

A as a Chinese Pig in her school assembly

After the assembly I went to read to Max’s class, as they were inviting in parents to read a child’s favorite story or a story from their, country. Max wanted ‘The Gruffalo’, so I read that to a class of about 14, 4 and 5 year olds. They seemed to enjoy it, even though I interrupted their painting, which some were reluctant to leave! So I left them to have their Arabic lesson, which was next.

The following day I was supposed to go to the school for a meeting about the Spring Fair, but it was cancelled. So I took the opportunity to visit Zamil Store with a friend, Zamil is a large craft store which has everything you could possibly need for crafting on 4 different floors, but in no particular order, so you have to hunt! So I bought lots of different things I needed and it came to £24, it would have cost at least double that at home.

While I was paying, I got a call from the school nurse telling me that Max had ringworm and needed to be picked up from school! I had noticed the red mark on his face and was putting his eczema cream on it, as I thought it was that, due to being told he had eaten a donut at the party on the Saturday, and as most donuts contain egg I thought he had had a reaction to that! obviously it wasn’t that and what was just a red mark early Tuesday morning had developed into a definite ring by lunch time.

So we had to ring for a taxi to take me to school to go get him and then take us home. I don’t think he liked being in the school hospital as he never said a word all the time he was there or in the taxi home, when I asked him why he wasn’t talking he whispered ‘because I don’t want to.’ Once I got him home he didn’t stop talking!

M was off from school the following day too, as he had to have had 3 doses of the cream before he was allowed back to school. So we had a quiet day reading, playing in the park,and watching a DVD.

Thursday (Valentines Day – and no I didn’t get a card or a present from G, although we got a lovely card that A had made at school, and 3 tiny chocolates that apparently cost SR 10! (£1.50). Anyway it was the though that counted!) was the swimming meet, warm up was 7.30 am, so we had to leave the house by 7.15, G was working – as usual – so we had to get a taxi, which was all fine until the taxi took us to the wrong compound, and he didn’t speak much English! We eventually got to where the meet was being held 10 minutes late, but all was fine. A had 5 races to do (50m Free, Back and Breast, 100m Free and 200m Free) due to not a lot of training over the past few months, she didn’t do that well and was nowhere near her PB’s. She now realises why we kept telling her to do some lengths in the pool here, instead of just playing about or sitting in the hot tub, but obviously she knew better! She was shattered by the end of it.

Friday – G working again, due to problems at work with new machinery! – so we had a reasonably quiet day as A wasn’t feeing too well, think she got a bit too much sun the previous day. So we did some baking and made popcorn and watched Hotel Transylvania, which we all enjoyed.

Well that’s it for part 1, part 2 to follow very soon!

This week I really have been a bit of a Desperate Housewife!!!

The week has been full of some good days and bad days! The ‘What the hell am I doing here!’ days have kicked in a couple of times this week, and I’ve had a couple of really nice days with some of the other wives. The problem here is, as we have such an early start, by 7.00 the kids are off to school, and by 10.00, I’ve had breakfast and the housework is finished, so there is not a lot else to do at home!

Saturday was a bit like this! I had managed to get the cleaning done before Body Pump, so come 10.00 I was at a loss and the option of popping down to the shops or to town isn’t an option! Most of the other wives had other things to do, so I was a bit billy no mates! So there I was sat in our sparse surroundings, the boredom started to kicking in and I started to feel rather sorry for myself! (Very silly I know!!!) Wondering what to do next!

So I stuck a film on and wrote last weeks blog and realised its not really all that bad out here! After a quick bit of lunch I headed to the pool for and hour to read my book. no-one else was about, so it was nice and peaceful.

So not a too bad a day after all! Plus we finally got the new car (with a complementary prayer mat!) So that kept the children entertained for half an hour, trying out all the seven seats, and checking out all the little cubby holes etc. I had to go through the manual (its bigger than war and peace! and that’s just the on road manual, there is also an off road manual!) as G couldn’t read it without his reading glasses, so he could figure out how to put petrol in the thing. Which he did the following morning, it cost him all of £5 I think!

Sunday was much better! I went round to a friends for a cup of tea, which lasted all morning and a little of the afternoon, so we had a good gab and it really lifted my spirits.

Monday and Tuesday I was working, just a bit of reflexology and Indian head massage, so that limited the boredom factor. G was supposed to be flying to Jeddah for meeting, but it was cancelled, so his boss decided to fly here instead! He wanted to look round the compound and apartments here, to see why Dammam/Al Khobar is much more expensive compared to Jeddah. It seems that the compound has a lot more facilities than the compounds in Jeddah i.e. gym, bowling alley, tennis courts etc. So there isn’t any chance of getting moved to bigger accommodation.

Tuesday, in fact, turned out to be an unexpectedly good day!

It started of with a reflexology treatment for a friend, which again turned into a cuppa and a gab, then we ordered lunch from the restaurant for which a friend across the road also joined us. Then more of a gab afterwards, so a nice lazy day, apart from me working for the first hour or so, but that didn’t count really!

On Wednesday M had his first school production ‘Billy no buzz’ he was a lady bird! Much to my astonishment he participated throughout the production, doing all the dances and actions! Which is a first, he has never done anything like that before, usually he refuses to take part and just wants to sit with me. So he did very well. We have sports day in a week or so, so we shall see how that goes.

Thursday (the supposed weekend!) G worked all day, as there were problems at work! While I seemed to spend all day cooking or baking, as M was having a tea party at school for World book day, he went as Spider-man. The children spent most of the day either playing out or at friends houses, so once again I was billy no mates and the low set in again!

For some reason G decided we should go to do a food shop on Thursday evening, never again! We just sat in traffic, as the whole of Dammam/Al Khobar seemed to be out! Driving in Saudi is bad at the best of times, but when there is a lot of traffic its even worse!

There is pushing, beeping, racing through car parks, anything they can to get half an inch in front of someone else. I think I have mentioned in a previous blog that the Saudi’s (as well as some of the other nationalities) do not have the children strapped in to the car, the children, including very small children, seem to either sit on the lap of the person of the in the passenger seat, or on the centre console in the front!!! Well not only was this happening, but children were hanging out of windows while cars speeded along! OMG!

Anyway it took over 2 hours to get there (G did go the wrong way and have to make a long detour!), shop and get back, so we were all glad to get back home! G was also not happy about the amount of money we spent, a bit more than normal, I think it must have been the pump he bought for the football! Nothing to do with the baking supplies and tin I needed!

Friday G went into work yet again! Although he did leave at lunch time. Meanwhile, the children and I went down to the tennis courts to meet up with the Aussie lot and played my first game of tennis in 25 years! Needless to say, I was still as bad as I was at school! After lunch we had a couple of hours by the pool before we had to drag ourselves away to sample the delights of Ikea, so I could get a chair for doing reflexology at home. I think G expected me to go in there and know where everything was located, get it and leave. This was never going to happen as I haven’t set foot in an Ikea for about 15 years, so I hadn’t got a clue what I was supposed to do or where anything was. Luckily the chair I wanted was one of the first things we saw, the footstool was a different matter!

While I decided on the exact chair I wanted, G fielded the people who wanted photos with M. A blond haired blue eyed little boy is a bit of a rarity out here, so every shop assistant makes a beeline for him. He on the other hand gives anyone who goes near him a very odd look and refuses to speak. A few weeks ago while M was playing in an indoor play area, there was a lady – in full burka – sat eating with her own child, who just started taking photo’s of M while he was on the trampoline!

Anyway once I had figured out exactly what I wanted, we trawled around the shop picking up a wok on the way, but nothing else I wanted, I really need to go on my own, like that is going to happen! Eventually we got to the area where we pick up the stuff, A and M randomly decided the wanted heart shaped cushions to go on their beds just before we got to the till, I think they both thought that they may leave the shop without getting anything so grabbed the nearest thing!

After paying and grabbing a 4 chicken kebabs from the food counter (to keep us going until we got home!) while also experiencing the Saudi queueing, it seems they don’t know how to! As it was closing in on the last prayer time of the day we headed on home as we couldn’t do any more shopping!

Well that’s all for now.

L x