Monday, October 17, 2011

My Awesome Birthday

Today was my birthday and it was one of the best I have had in a long time. It is Sunday but here in Saudi Arabia that is like a Tuesday in the States so I had to work today but that didn't matter much, it still was an awesome day.

My day started at 5:20 this morning with a kiss from my hubby as he left bright and early to take Jonny to seminary. I arrived at school and was greeted by several of my students with all kinds of gifts. Yesterday I let it slip that it was my birthday today in one of my classes and as I said it, many of my students grabbed their planners and wrote it down like it was a homework assignment. This morning they all remembered by writing messages all over my board in my classroom along with gifts. What sweet kids they all are.

All day I was greeted with smiles and birthday wishes.

After school I got to choose where we would go for dinner. The Corniche or strand along the Arabian Gulf (not the Persian Gulf here...they call it the Arabian Gulf), anyway it is only about a mile from our house with just about every type of restaurant along the Corniche. I chose to go to TGIF, that's right, they have TGIF here in Saudi. I really think they should change the name to TAIW (Thank Allah it's Wednesday). It was just the same as in the States.
It was nice to be able to take the family out to a good restaurant with good food and service. That's something that was very hard to find in China. Here we have many choices like Chili's, Applebees, Tony Romas, TGIF, Macaroni Grill, Burger King, McDonald's, Hardees (Carl Jr's), and KFC to just name a few.
The food was great! I was able to actually have a good Chicken Chimichanga.

As you can see we had a great time enjoying our food and each other. I wish I could have taken a picture of the family next to us though. After we sat down a group of four women dressed in the full Abaya's covering their faces and all walked in with their husband. Yes, he had four wives. They sat in the booth next to us but requested privacy so they brought out a room divider to put around the booth. Gavin asked why he couldn't have four wives. After some thought he came to the conclusion on his own that one was enough.
After dinner we walked along the Corniche. Yes, that's my Abaya I wear when we go out. It really isn't that bad. I just throw it on over my clothes and it's no big deal. It does get a little hot if I'm out in the sun because it is black.

The weather is getting a little cooler so it was nice walking along the Gulf. After dinner and our walk we came back to the house to open presents and then ended the day talking to Rachel, which was the best part of it all.

Happy Birthday to me......

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Thumb

So we rented a car for the week so we can go look for one to buy. It was a little difficult taking taxi's or bumming rides from other people so we decided to just rent one for now. The cars here have cigarette lighters in them. Not something you see much in the US.

Well, Jonny, being the brilliant 15 year old he is, has never seen a cigarette lighter before. We were parked on the side of the road while Jack went to look at a car for sale and Jonny was sitting in the front seat so I couldn't really see what he was doing. All of a sudden he yells and I smell burnt flesh at the same time. I see this thing go flying from his hand.

Come to find out, he didn't know the lighter would get hot when he pushed it in. He took it out and wanted to know what it felt like so he put his thumb on it. I don't think he will ever do that again. Hmmmmm.....the glowing redness and heat coming from the lighter wasn't a good enough indication that it was hot?
What is it with teenagers? Rachel did a similar thing when she was 12 with a hand held blender. She wanted to know what it felt like while the blade was spinning. Luckily she only chopped a small portion on the top of her finger and not the entire finger off.

Now they both have a dumb silly story to tell about touching things. Maybe the lesson is, if your not sure, don't touch.

ISG Dhahran Campus

Here is just a quick tour of the Middle School. The campus consists of DEMS (Dhahran Elementary Middle School), DHS (Dhahran High School), and then the British School.This is one of four gyms on campus. This is probably the nicest of the four but they all are good.

This is a very nice benefit. They have a Joffrey's Coffee and Tea shop literally 20 feet from my classroom. It's not just coffee and tea, they have pastry's, fruit smoothies, salads, ice cream, and other little treats. I can call them up to place an order and they will deliver it to my classroom. Only the High School students, teachers, and staff are allowed in. The elementary and middle school students can go once a semester with their homeroom teacher.
Just another shot of Joffrey's.
The building on the left is the cafeteria and straight ahead is one entrance for one of the four gyms on campus.
The door straight ahead goes into Coree's classroom. They are portables but are equipped very nicely inside with a very cold air conditioner. That is the important thing here. The buildings are so cold though, that you literally have to go outside to warm up.
Each school has a dome building for student's to use. This is the Middle School dome. Students come here for assembly's and during breaks to hang out and play games. They have several ping pong tables, fuzball, and air hockey. Quite the fun place to hang out when it's hot outside.

This is looking down from the middle school towards the elementary and preschool section.
The strange thing is the track. It goes around the center of the campus with classrooms in the center and all around it.
This is the walkway from the cafeteria towards one of the gyms.

Millionaire Road

There's this street on the way to our school that is nicknamed Millionaire Road. The pictures don't do justice because these places are insane. Many of them have a main house and then several smaller 8,000 square foot homes right next to them for the "other" wives. They are all fenced off with security like most compounds so you can't get very close and they probably would not be happy that we took pictures but the size of them is unreal.The compound of homes had a huge probably 20,000 square foot home with three other large homes that we could see.
This is one gate to the smaller home on the compound pictured above.
This is gate two for the second home on the same compound. Maybe being one of the "other" wives isn't so bad.
This house looks exactly like the White House in DC.
Just another compound of homes. Again the pictures don't do justice but the amount of money these people have is insane. See where all the money goes for oil?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Girls will be girls...and more!

Vika is quite the girly girl. She loves to play dress up as an "adult" version of Vika. She probably wears my high heels more than I do and jewelry is always an accessory in her wardrobe. She had a friend over to play one day and came down dressed up like this. Her friend, who is a boy, also came down with my heels on but wouldn't let me take a picture. Vika of course loves the camera and hams it up whenever a camera is pointed at her. Here she is fashioning skinny jeans with black high heel sandals, a large fashionable bag from Rue 21, of course lots of bracelets and the ever famous Dior glasses on her head. Quite the fashionable little girl.
One fun thing about living in different countries is trying the different types of food. It can be disappointing at times but occasionally we are surprised to find a gem. I saw these melons at the store and decided to give them a try since I love cantelope, I was hoping to find an orange melon inside. When I cut the melon open and saw a white fruit I was a little disappointed thinking it would be more like a honey dew which is one of my least favorite melons. The seeds were the orange color that you would see in a cantelope so I wasn't sure what it was. I was pleasantly surprised to find it tastes exactly like cantelope. It's like an albino version because the color is taken out of it but it is just as sweet as a cantelope that I'd get back home. YUMMY!!!!

Another surprise today was discovering that coriander is the same as cilantro. I love to cook mexican food and make my own salsa but just couldn't find fresh cilantro here and was really disappointed. I was told that coriander is the same but I just didn't believe it because it didn't have the same smell. I would go through the fresh herb section in the stores and smell all the things that looked similar to cilantro which coriander does but it just didn't have that same fresh smell. I decided to just try coriander and see. Today I made a Taco Salad for dinner and as I was chopping up the coriander, that strong beautiful aroma of cilantro crept it's way up to my nose and a smile spread from ear to ear. YES it is the same and I am so happy, Happy, HAPPY!!!!!!

For the past three years when we returned back to Utah for the summer I have craved GOOD peaches. I was always disappointed because we never were there for the actual peach season and the peaches from the stores just were blah! I was at Tamimi's (Saudi's Safeway) here and saw these Lebanese Peaches. They looked perfect so I thought what the heck, I'll try them. THEY ARE ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS! Who would ever had known that peaches grew in Lebanon and that they were so good. I am in love....
After enjoying some fresh peaches I decided to make my favorite Peach Cobbler. It was heavenly.... Utah may have good peaches, Georgia may be known as the Peach State but Lebanon almost out beats them all. Lebanese Peaches....AWESOME!!!!

Still love it here....all is good!