Sunday, December 18, 2011

Catch up....

I really need to get better at posting on our blog. I take pictures and think of things I want to post but just don't get around to it. Then I end up having to do "catch up" posts like this one here.

Several weeks ago we purchased a 51" Plasma TV for the family but as you see here it has mostly been used for football.....When Gavin has a chance, this is his favorite position and place to be. Right in front of the TV, remote in hand and either watching football or UFC in HD TV. Typical male!!!!
Nicole has grown into quite the beautiful young woman. I can't believe how grown up she is. Yes, she is allowed to wear a little makeup but doesn't really need it. She is absolutely gorgeous.
On Thanksgiving morning I (Coree) had to coach the middle school volleyball team at a tournament on Aramco and actually was able to come home and bake two pies before heading back to Aramco for our Thanksgiving dinner with some friends. Jonny's "girlfriend" Monique and her family invited us to have Thanksgiving with their family. Her father is from America and her mother is Lebanese but lived in America for several years. She has quite a bit of family here so we were able to join them all for Thanksgiving. It was awesome. Unfortunately, we didn't take pictures but we had some great food, great conversation, and made some new friends.
Nicole was so anxious to get an Abaya. Girls aren't required to wear them until they become of child bearing years (what we would call puberty). She is at that age where she doesn't have to wear one but still felt uncomfortable not wearing it. We don't have to wear the Bhurka (head dress) but she learned how to do it and came out dressed in the full attire. The real traditional women wear gloves and sunglasses as well.

Since the women here can only express themselves with their eyes, they pretty them up with lots of cool makeup. I have seen some gorgeous eyes here. Nicole doesn't need any makeup to make her eyes expressive.
A few weeks ago we were invited by Monique and her family to go sailing at the Aramco Yacht club. Aramcon's have some great benefits like their own private beaches where they can wear normal swimsuits. This was the Yacht club where only members who have boats can come. They can come pitch tents and camp if they wanted to. There were nice tables and bbq's along with a nice park, and restaurant. It was a beautiful sunny day with just the right amount of wind and temps in the high 80's. Perfect for sailing.
Gavin has always had a dream of buying a sailboat so this really was a highlight for him. Hopefully he will be asked to help crew for some of the members here.
It really was a perfect family day which we all enjoyed.
Not sure what these two faces are but they don't express how they really felt.
We got out into the bay (Half Moon Bay) and were escorted by a pod of dolphins. It was so cool. You always hear how dolphins enjoy leading ships and we actually were a part of it. There were about 6 - 8 dolphins with babies swimming and playing all around the boat. We tried to get pictures of them jumping and were able to get a few. They stayed with us for about 10 minutes or so then went off to play somewhere else.

This is the back crew. Gavin, Nicole, and Vika were on the front.
It was absolutely beautiful out on the water.
Vika's smiling face shows it all!
Yes, this picture below just looks wrong! We had a little Christmas party at our neighbors where Santa came to visit the kids and I looked over at the boys and saw this. Doesn't quite look right. Alcohol is illegal here but they love the fake stuff. They have fake beers, wine coolers, wine, etc. These were just sparkling juice but the way they were holding them and drinking just looked wrong!
Of course they had to ham it up for the picture once they noticed I was taking them.
The little kids were able to decorate gingerbread men. Vika and Lilly were having fun decorating but mostly enjoyed eating them after.

Santa finally came and the kids all gathered around to get their Santa gift. Vika was waving to Santa to make sure he knew she was there.
The older boys were Santa's elves and helped pass out the gifts.
Vika was so excited to get her Bratz doll from Santa. It was exactly what she asked for. Wonder how he knew?
It was a great evening. It has been a little hard getting into the Christmas spirit here because you don't see it all around you like you do at home. Most of the villa's on our compound have Christmas trees and decorations so it feels a little like Christmas walking around our compound. I try to play Christmas music as much as possible to get in the mood. Next year I'm planning on bringing lots of our decorations from home but this year is simple. We were fortunate enough to get a tree with a few decorations.

It's kind of nice to not be bombarded with all the commercialism of Christmas. We have been able to really focus on what it is all about. We will be visiting Jerusalem and Bethlehem for Christmas this year where we can really remember our Savior Jesus Christ. We don't need all the fluff to have the Christmas spirit.

Merry Christmas!!!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Beach on the Arabian Gulf

Today we headed off to a beach about 30 minutes from our house with a group from our church. We got there around 4:00 and didn't even think of bringing jackets with us. It's doesn't get cold here. HA, were we wrong. The wind was blowing and it was rather chilly. Some friends of ours were nice enough to let Vika use a blanket they had and she bundled up and hid on the chair for the first little bit until her friend came. Once she started running around she was fine.
The beach is a huge sandy beach that we had to use four wheel vehicles to drive down to the water. Several people tried in their regular cars and got stuck. Not fun! Yes, the women did have to wear their abayas at the beach but it was pretty chilly so we didn't mind.
Jonny and Franco practiced their juggling skills.
Looks like they are practicing for a show.
The sad thing about the beaches and pretty much most of Saudi is the amount of trash people throw on the ground. This was just some of the trash we had to pick up from our site before we could enjoy it.

It was pretty chilly but we had a great fire to warm us up. Yes, it can get cool here where we need jackets and fire to keep warm.

Happy or mad? Which is it boys?
Our nice warm comfy fire.
The food arrived late because the vehicle bringing it to us got stuck in the sand but when it arrived, it was YUMMY!!!! This picture doesn't do justice, but it was roasted chicken and rice. I don't know how they do it but the Arab people know how to cook chicken.

Had lots of food and fun times with friends.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Eid Al-Adha or Festival of Sacrifice

Today was the start of the official Eid Al-Adha here in Saudi Arabia. We have the entire week off of school for this holiday. The Eid Al-Adha or Festival of Sacrifice is a Muslim holiday to remember and commemorate the trial of the Prophet Abraham, particularly the trial of being told by God or Allah to sacrifice his only son Isaac. During the celebration, Muslims will sacrifice an animal such as a goat, sheep, or cow. The animal meat is then divided into thirds, one third for the family, one third for friends, and one third for the poor. During this holiday gifts are shared and it is a time of celebration.

This morning I was walking our dog around our compound and heard the sound of a goat. I thought it was one of our neighbors iPhone apps that he has for his one year old daughter that has animal sounds on it. He was out walking with his daughter as well, so I thought the goat sound was his phone but I was walking farther and farther away from them yet the goat sound was getting louder and louder. I looked over in the front yard of a villa and saw a goat popping his head up and down. It was rather cute but yet sad to think that his life was about to come to an end later that day. We have only a few Muslims living on our compound so I'm not sure who's goat it actually was. Jack went down and took some pictures of him. Unfortunately, he is probably on someones dinner table right now.

We decided to stay here for the week and just enjoy our time off. We went out and bought ourselves an Eid gift yesterday, a 51" Plasma TV. We were a little tired of the tiny compound TV that we had in our villa and gave in and bought us an Eid gift to enjoy this week.
We woke this morning and had our first taste of Beef Bacon. Of course we can't get pork bacon here but the beef bacon is pretty good. We had it in breakfast burritos with my home made tortillas, scrambled eggs, hash browns, and home made salsa. Couldn't even taste the difference.
Our weather has been perfect with temperatures in the low 90's so we took advantage of probably our last day of swimming in the pool. It is supposed to drop 15 degrees tomorrow and will be in the 70's for the rest of the week. The water was a bit chilly but still was rather refreshing.

Of course Vika and Nicole had to model and take tons of pictures.

The compound has lots of flowers blooming right now. We went down yesterday and bought some flowers and two huge jasmine vines in pots to put out on our front porch and walkway. They should be delivered tomorrow. Even though it is November, we are enjoying the beautiful weather and flowers.

Halloween in Saudi

Halloween here in Saudi wasn't much different from back home. Our compound had a Halloween party for the kids in the recreation room with pizza and treats. After the pizza the kids went trick or treating to the houses in our compound. It was quite the festive evening. I was surprised to learn though that Halloween isn't celebrated much in England. Most of our British friends weren't quite sure what it was all about but they joined in and had a lot of fun.
Jonny and his friends decided to dress up as rappers and gangsters. This was Jonny's dream to finally get to wear the rapper gear that we don't like him to wear.
Of course he had to show off his guns wearing his wife beater shirt.
Nicole dressed as Justin Beiber, why? I do not know. She doesn't even like him but it was a good costume.Jack did his usual biker dude get up. He actually had to make his own chops for his glasses this year because the Elvis glasses with the chops that he has used for several years broke last year when he wore them in a student/teacher basketball game at school. He took an old pair of black socks and cut them like sideburns and glued them to his glasses. Yes, he was wearing old basketball socks on his face.

Vika started off as wanting to be a zombie fairy but ended up being a cute kitty cat with long pink hair. Of course she was cute.
I wasn't going to dress up but at the last minute I put on my PJ's and stuffed a pillow in my butt. It was a crack up. We hadn't laughed so hard in a very long time. I then decided to go as a couch potato house wife.
So our theme for the evening ended up being the white trash family....or no offense to our Palmdale friends, but we joked that we were the Palmdale white trash family.
Jonny and his friends dressed up as rapper, gangsters. No Matt is not holding an alcohol bottle and Franco doesn't have a real gun.
Nicole and her friend Marisha.
This is the one thing I wish I would have brought more of back from China. We had found all kinds of cheap Halloween and Christmas decorations there but I wasn't sure if we would be able to ship them here in our shipment. They told us not to put any type of religious things in the shipment because they would be confiscated so I left most of our things back in China, like our huge Christmas tree. At the last minute I threw in a few small Christmas and Halloween items like this pumpkin and they made it here, no problem. Now I wish I would have sent the other things.
At school on Halloween day we had a costume parade for the Elementary and Middle School students. These are a few of my students. I thought these were quite creative.
The parade was fun to see all the different costumes. Vika was her pink haired cat again.
This is my 6th grade homeroom class in their costumes. After the parade we had a Halloween party in the classroom. Overall it was quite the normal festive Halloween day. We've heard that Halloween on the ARAMCO compound is CRAZY!!!!! Maybe next year we can try to go but they say the Arabs all come out just to get the free candy.