Dano, Melissa, Kennedy, Ethan, Erin, Abigail, and Emily

Dano, Melissa, Kennedy, Ethan, Erin, Abigail, and Emily

29 June 2010

Lister Fish are in the Pool!

One of the benefits of school curriculum here is the weekly swimming classes. For kids who already love to swim it is just a bonus. At the end of every school year the key stages have swim galas. Erin had hers first. We met in the swim hall with a crowd of other parents. I dubbed it the ‘swim sauna’ as it felt like such. I asked one of the PE teachers if we were having adult swim after the kids! Erin swam the 25 meter freestyle and another 25 meter event terrifically well and earned points for her house which won the swim gala.Ethan’s swim gala was a few days later. He competed in the 25 meter breaststroke, 25 meter freestyle, and 100 meter relay. He did very well and his house won their key stage (years 4-6/grades 3-5) as well.
Kennedy’s swim gala was this week. Hers was only for girls in years 7-9 (grades 6-8). As Erin and Ethan’s swim galas were crowded, Kennedy’s was quite the opposite. I was one of four mothers in attendance. Unfortunately Dano was gone for Erin and Ethan’s swim galas. He was here for Kennedy’s, but fathers are uninvited. I’m guessing because of the region of the world in which we live and the social environment and concerns, men are not permitted in the vicinity when the older girls are swimming. Male PE teachers are not even allowed at the pool. The ironic thing is that Kennedy’s year had a beach trip the other day and the boys and girls were permitted to swim in the same beach area. I guess I don’t really understand yet. Kennedy swam the 25 meter breaststroke and the 100 meter medley relay. Her team took first in the relay but her house walked away overall with second place. I’m learning how stiff the house competition is. The kids are anxiously awaiting to hear which house will win the house cup this year. It will be announced next week at the Celebration of Achievement.
Not to be left out, Abby also loves to swim and enjoyed watching the kids swim. Our new compound offers a semi-covered child’s pool. Abby and I go nearly every morning around 8:30. Any later and the sun is too intense and it’s just too hot already, even in the shade. She loves kicking around on Dad’s kickboard, blowing bubbles, and just being in the water. She was so pleased to score her very own goggles at last week’s quick trip to the mall. Here she has used her blanket as a "towel" and wrapped herself up. Oh, to be a big kid.
Still in triathlon mode, Dano is diligent about swimming several times a week at 5:00 a.m. He took the kids out on Thursday morning around 7:00 (no one else on the compound is awake at that hour!) and had the pools all to themselves. Ethan and Kennedy managed to kick out 800 and 1200 meters respectively. All this swimming has been another perk of living here in the kingdom. If it didn't get so hot, I may never get them out of the water!

26 June 2010

I'm Melllllttttting!

Well, summer has arrived…officially by date of June 21, but it really arrived back in April. Now it has come on with a vengeance. Our highs for yesterday and today hovered around the 125 F mark. The heat was accompanied by hot winds from the southeast which brought with them a sandstorm. The air was just filled with sand. Who needs to pay for dermabrasion when you live in Jeddah?! As we were out running a couple of errands (only out of necessity) it felt as if we were walking into an oven. I have never felt this kind of heat before…except when opening an oven door. We were in Phoenix a couple of summers ago when they topped out at 117. This feels so much hotter. To think, last year when we were planning our move here, I told Dano we could survive the summer; not to worry about coming home to Ohio. As long as we have a swimming pool we could withstand any heat…except when the swimming pool feels like a really warm bath. So wrong was I!!

As we were walking around today I thought it very unfair and somewhat uncaring that men can wear whatever they want and if they’re the religious type, their robes are loose, white robes. Whereas, if you’re a woman, you have to cover from head to toe in heat-absorbing black abbayas. No wonder I’ve heard rumors that many women only wear their unmentionables under their abbayas!

It has made me even more grateful for air conditioning and very compassionate for those who don’t have it here. I’m not sure what good it does to drive with your windows down to let air in when it is this hot. The windows of our car, upon touching, are nearly burning; too uncomfortable for a child to touch. Again, to think I balked at Dano when he told me our car came equipped with seat coolers! They should start equipping them with misters!

The heat and sand caused technological failures all over Jeddah including the kids’ school which lost most of its power for the last two and a half hours of school. They assembled the children and rotated them between the sports hall and library which did still have a/c. Next time, hopefully, they’ll just allow them to call Dano and go home. I can’t imagine being at a school with many kids in 125 temps and hot gusts of wind and no air conditioning. They already have done away with outdoor recesses because of the heat. Perhaps it’s simply time to adjourn school!

As we were driving home, again feeling anguish for the individuals who work outside cleaning, working construction, or selling things, I told Dano I think they have physically adjusted to living under the sun for centuries and centuries. I also think that we Americans were not bred to withstand such heat. I think the local people have different circulatory systems that help them tolerate this heat a little better while us white folk are melting!

22 June 2010

Bad Combination

1 Husband out of country for eleven days
+ 1 moving of compounds
+ 1 pregnant mom feeling quite big and cumbersome
+ 1 potty-training two-year old
+ 1 daughter with college-like finals schedule
+ 1 vomiting daughter
+ 2 swim galas
+ 1 mom who can’t drive herself anywhere
1 crazy household (well, crazier than usual)

With Dano in England and the states, we managed to move compounds. It has been a long, busy two weeks but the end result has definitely been worth it. We are very happy with our new location as it offers more social opportunities, fewer sewer trucks, a little less living space but a homier feel, and more security.

Kennedy survived her finals and did quite well. I am amazed at how rigorous the tests are here. It reminded me of college days…even the BYU testing center. Kennedy had at least one test in a large hall with many students. Apparently during the administration of one exam someone’s cell phone beeped or rang and the entire test was thrown out. She’s been very pleased (and relieved) to report to us that she’s scored the highest in her classes on several finals including the highest in all of year seven in History…which we found to be a little ironic that an American would score the highest on a British history exam!

With Dano not here to drive, I had to rely more on our driver to get me to and from the compounds to make arrangements and move things. It was a little bit frustrating. I learned that many men generally don’t have a lot of respect for women, even when they are the employees. Our driver respects Dano more than he respects me. He would never be late or not pick Dano up when he is supposed to. There is also no reason that I cannot communicate for myself. Even as I was speaking to the guards at the gate of our new compound, he was trying to speak over me and eventually rolled up my window as I was finishing speaking! It’s really a learning experience living in a country where women are not valued with the same importance as men. I’m so grateful to be an American and have the freedoms we do; where all men [and women] are created equal.

At the end of these long couple of weeks where so many things combined to form a potential Bermuda Triangle effect, we're happy that Dano's back, we're moved in, and feeling empowered for the next time we encounter such a combination.

11 June 2010

Broken Intuition

So Dano whimsically informed me a couple weeks ago that my intuition is broken. We went to the doctor and found out we are adding another girl to our family. Shocker for us. I was so certain that we were missing a boy from our family…therein lies my broken intuition. People have politely sighed and wondered if we’re okay with it….mostly how Ethan’s taking it. He bravely tried to put on a good face but eventually shed a few tears, but only a few. He was very excited the next day to tell his school friends that he was going to have another sister. He practically burst. I was so pleased to hear it. He is genuinely excited. He has since turned those dinner conversations to “So. What shall we name our new baby sister?” The girls are excited either way. As for me and Dano, it’s really hard to be disappointed when we have been blessed with such wonderful, beautiful daughters. Our only concern was for Ethan. He seems to recall and rely on Dano’s words of comfort when we found out Abby was going to be a girl. He told Ethan, “Heavenly Father must think you’re a very special boy to send you sisters to look after and care for.”

We’re very happy to report that she is completely healthy as far as major functions go and growing right on schedule, if not a little bigger. I never cease to be amazed at technology and what it does for medicine these days. I have switched doctors and hospitals and find it to be a more comfortable, relaxing choice. When I was given my next appointment of July 4th, I took a second glance and nearly asked if she was sure they were open that day. Good thing I caught myself. I can only imagine the blank stare of confusion she would have given me. Our kids are still a little miffed that they have to go to school that day. But, as we’ve told them, why would the British want to recognize or celebrate our independence from them?!

So, aside from my intuition being broken we are all happy and healthy and in one piece, anticipating the new chapter this new life will bring in October.

04 June 2010

Spoken Like a True Two-Year Old

Abigail’s rich vocabulary has recently evolved into strings of words making complete or nearly-complete sentences. How quickly we had forgotten how funny the mind, quips, and blatant honesty of a two-year old can be. She keeps all of us laughing to the point of irreverence and near-loss of control of bodily functions. Here are some of Abby’s recent colloquialisms (if only you could hear them in her sweet, excited little girlie voice with not all sound pronunciations down yet):

In response to Erin’s question wondering if the desalinized water is drinkable: “No! It make you sick!” (said with upturned nose and serious look of disgust)

To our waiter lingering close to our table: “No come! I not finished yet!”

At snack time: “C’mon, Erin! You want some applesauce? It’ll be fuuuun!”

Seeing some cake on a table (
there's a good chance she was even rubbing her hands together): “Ooohhh. Chooooocolate!”

When Kennedy was talking with her about a picture of Jesus being baptized:
“Abby, who’s this?”
“Jesus Chist.” (not a typo...she can't really pronounce 'r' yet)
“And who’s this baptizing Jesus?”
“John…uh…Johnnnnn…Johnny Lingo.”

Running in when she finds the diapers dad bought on a late-night diaper run: “Thank you, Daddy! Thank you, Daddy! Thank you buy me diapers at store.”

Reaction to a lady at church blowing her nose (granted it was rather loud and honky): “Haaaaa! Haaaaaa!”

Thinking Dad should leave the same time as the kids-concerned that he’s going to be late for work: “Wun, Dad! Wun like the wind!”

Said to the wife of a man at church acting very sleepy during the meeting: “He yaaaawwwwning,” followed by her little snoring noises (At least she’s not Ethan at two who upon seeing someone sleeping in a church conference meeting just hollered out, “Wake Up!!”)

Looking and pointing during diaper changes of the rather messy kind: “You missed some. No, right there. Wipe more. Some there, too.” (okay…that’s really just a sign that it’s time to potty train already!!!)

When the lady Abby was sitting by at church pulled a kleenex out of her purse: “You need get boogie out?”