We got a Christmas card from a friend today. She has six kids now. Brian commented that they have "sandwiched us." They have one kid above Ben and one kid below Ashlyn. When I asked what he proposed we do about it he replied, "Admit defeat."
Our friend here went into labor two nights ago so I have stayed at their house since then and Brian has managed here at our house alone in the morning rush plus nights. All day I manage the six kids. I concur. We admit defeat.
Monday, December 15, 2014
Saturday, December 13, 2014
My Kitchenaid burned out while I was mixing dinner rolls for Madison's second birthday. As in smoke coming out of the machine and everything. My heart sunk and I wanted to cry. It was my baby!
Not wanting that to ever happen again I looked at power/wattage and chose to buy a large Bosch because they have more power - like nearly double the Kitchenaids. When using the Bosch though I found if the bowl is real full the dough gets caught in the gear thing at the top and I end up cleaning the darn thing with a toothpick every time. Too cumbersome for me.
So we hauled the broken Kitchenaid back up out of the basement (I couldn't bear to throw it out so it sat there for two years). We finally found a motor for the Kitchenaid online to fix it for about $80. Didn't work. Then Brian figured out the fuse had just melted to protect the Kitchenaid. He ended up fixing it for a new thermocouple fuse thingy for $0.30 after I had and used the Bosch two years. It was a great powerful machine!
Now I am the proud owner of a Kitchenaid, a spare motor AND a Bosch. When it came time to leave overseas I didn't actually want to haul two mixers across the globe. I chose the Kitchenaid to join our adventures for clean up reasons and put the Bosch in storage. Some days I wish I still had both with me. Especially now that we are away for 7-10 years instead of 2.5 years. The Kitchenaid is 15 years old now and it's been getting a serious workout this holiday season. One day this week I got real worried about it but so far so good. I'm keeping by fingers AND toes
crossed that it can make it another 3-5 years until we go home - unless we
get another amazing opportunity to explore a new corner of the world. Then it better lasts even longer still.
I also wonder at what point would the company allow us to go through the items we left in storage to get rid of the things we left behind? It costs them money every single month to pay the storage bill. I bet never. Oh well. My winter wardrobe that I didn't need in tropical Singapore is going to be completely outdated - and probably have black old spots on everything. Frankly I could have used it here in Saudi and wish I had my winter boots for our Geneva trip in three weeks to the snow. And the warm clothes I would love to snuggle into would bring back such great memories about now. But when we return they will be so terribly outdated I will have to give them to some creative teenagers for Halloween costumes.
I wonder what else is in that storage unit that I can't remember. It will be a treasure trove of fun surprises for sure.
Friday, December 12, 2014
Mom knows you have no legitimate reason to be out of bed, again, when the thing you urgently needed to do was tattle on your brother for saying, "Santa is fat." I said, "So. He is." She insists it's rude. I told her to hush up and go to sleep. Then Brian passes by her room and she tries the same trick on him. He said, "In some cultures you can call someone fat and it's perfectly acceptable. Now go to sleep." I think I hear her sniffling. What am I supposed to do about that?
We are on lock down again here. That means we can't go anywhere that isn't essential. Work, school and grocery shopping are all we have been able to do for a while and I've had some rough days at home. This bird doesn't appreciate her wings bring clipped.
The last two days though have been pretty awesome in so many ways. A gorgeous fog rolled in two days ago that blanketed the world in mysterious white. Traffic was a disaster getting to school and several traffic lights were out. That only added to the general insanity on the dangerous Saudi roads but we made it safely to school. I have to chaperone the kids every day with a company chosen driver because it's illegal for women to drive in the kingdom. But we were stuck in the jams with all the buses of children going the same way. The windows are covered with curtains so no one sees the western children riding. Because it took so long the kids couldn't resist a little peek and we saw several familiar faces pole out from those curtains.
Then I asked the driver to take me to the grocery store and rather than go all the way home and back in the messy weather we just stayed at the store nearby and I snuck to the office supply store next door with Ashlyn to do my Christmas shopping or at least check it my options. It's too late to ship anything now and expect it to arrive my December 25th and we aren't allowed to shop so I was desperate. I found some decent options in the two tiny aisles of toys.
Instead of baking for the preschool holiday party I let myself off the hook and bought biscuits.
Brian and I returned to the office supply store after the kids were in bed the same night and made our final purchases while a gracious friend stayed at the house. And we found a glasses shop that had kid sizes glasses there too. From here on out we will go back to grocery store shopping only but the freedom was so nice for an hour.
Yesterday was equally great. Jacob had a fieldtrip. To our compound. Seriously. You know you live in a nice place when the school plans fieldtrips tips to your house. He got to sleep in and I was able to fit my two big kids into other cars and not drive to school for once. We gave Ashlyn her first shampoo in the sink before she went to her preschool party all dressed up fancy then played with her wild hair and laughed at her together.
Then we relaxed outside as we waited for her little bus to come and Jacob played around taking pictures.
Then an email came in from Ben's teacher that he had been to the library before school and found the LAST Willy Wonka golden ticket in his book. He was super excited about it!
beach picnic. The kids had a lovely day digging, swinging, sliding and making a friendship fruit salad.
The timing couldn't have been better for many of those kids who are shut up in less amazing compounds across the area. It was a real chance to get out, run and breath crisp, clean, fresh air.
Then it was back home to bake for two events. I had some cute little helpers who rolled chocolate cookie balls in powdered sugar. When Madison and Ben got home Ashlyn got a little too silly and picked up a handful of powder and threw it at Madison. Not cool. But kind of funny. Doesn't everyone want to do that deep down? It was kind of hard to not smile and giggle as I put the little devil in timeout.
In the middle of the baking we sent Errand Boy, aka Ben, delivering several things on his bike to clear out my kitchen of extra stuff that needed to be returned or loaned out.
Next the kids and I walked and rode bikes to the rec center to bring an offering of cookies. Here we, the residents, presented the monies we earned at the annual Bazzar fund raiser to the men who work year round to make our lives amazing here. They come from countries all over the region and leave their families for years at a time sending money home to do amazing things so their children have a comfortable life. Some send their kids to private schools or university, build a home, buy a farm, pay for a family car or other worthy endeavors above food and clothing for their families. Working at the fund raiser, buying things there and baking cookies is the least I can do as a beneficiary of their goodness. Madison and Jacob got to hand out some of the envelopes to the men.
These are the bikes lined up while the guys are inside at their party. They ride these around the compound to do their jobs as carpenters, electricians, painters, plumbers, gardeners, security guards, and even a cook who does restaurant delivery.
Then I made some cute handouts with a nice quote for the remainer cookies to go to more single guys doing the same thing for their families to brighten their spirits.
Finally we ended the night at a friends house for dinner. What a great two days even with the lock down. I have so much to be thankful for this season!
Sunday, December 7, 2014
Ben asked tonight, "Why are you having ANOTHER party tomorrow?"
I told him the truth, "Because I got the big house."
Brian explained further, "Having a big house in Saudi is like having a truck in the US. You get to help EVERYONE move. It's just part of the contract you sign when you move in."
Thursday, December 4, 2014
Sorting through pictures tonight I stumbled across this one that had me reminiscing during the flight from SLC to Saudi this summer. Ashlyn is two and she has a first class ticket on this trip. She is well taken care of to say the least but the food isn't always too familiar to her. At this meal she received bread and a small bowl with butter. Because I was flying solo this time with four kids, mealtimes were anything but relaxing. I would go from seat to seat cutting meat, opening silverware packets, telling them what the strange and fancy food was. I had to take a picture when I noticed Ash had eaten the chilled, molded butter patty like a piece of candy while I was distracted. Then she put her binkie in and was totally happy watching a Mickey Mouse movie before she fell asleep.
The situation is particularly hilarious to me because I have vivid memories of Grandma Robinson doing the same darn thing at about 90 years old. My cousin Rick and I both lived with her in her apartment for a while. Grandma was well known for her addiction to the buffet style restaurant Chuck-a-rama. It really was the perfect place. Always room to seat the entire family (I figure we frequently had 30+ at a standard cousin gathering by that time). Because Rick and I lived with her we went out with her every now and then just the three of us but it was always to Chuck-a-rama no matter the size.
On this particular day we sat down and filled our plates at the salad bar first. Grandma always got a little of everything to try. We talked and ate and after a very long while Grandma finally asked Rick to taste her jello salad. She didn't particularly like it, but being raised not to waste a bit of food she had been trying to power through for quite a long time. Rick obliged by taking a little taste and promptly proclaimed, "Grandma!! THAT'S BUTTER!! You're eating a pile of butter!" She was greatly relieved and pushed the plate aside to be cleared by the bus boy because she no longer felt she had to finish the whole thing. Rick hassled her the rest of the meal in his natural good natured way and I'll never forget it. She was a wonderful woman and I really miss her some days.
So seeing Ashlyn had just polished off a big pile of butter made me smile and think of my sweet Grandma and all the good times we shared together.