Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Happy Halloween from Doha

 We celebrated Halloween last week...which was strange to me, because I wasn't really expecting to celebrate Halloween in Qatar.  Apparently there are lots of people here who do, so we joined in:)  Our shipment won't arrive until mid November, so all of my holiday decorations are still on a boat at sea.  We improvised and made our own Halloween decorations!
 Skull and crossbones snowflake,
 spider snowflake, 
 spider and bat snowflake, and 
 bat and jack o lantern snowflake!
 Ellie loved her mermaid costume and was excited to trick or treat for the first time (in Qatar of all places!!)
 She collected lots of candy because everyone thought she was so cute:)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Today something happened that broke my heart.
I took Ellie to the playground and there was a family there with 3 kids, probably ranging from about 4 years old to 7 or 8.  Ellie wanted to play but the kids kept running away from her.  At first they were just avoiding her but they quickly became more and more aggressive in their certainty that she not play with them.  They pushed her off some playground equipment, blocked her way to the slide, hid their toys, called her a baby, and continued to devise ways to get her away from them.  I simply observed and didn't get involved for a few reasons.  One, Ellie is so young and innocent she didn't even know what was going on and she wasn't upset,  two, i kept waiting for the adult with them to step in (never happened, I think she was a nanny and not a parent), and three, i honestly didn't even know what to do.  I was also a little shocked.  I know kids can be mean, but experiencing it yourself and then watching your (two year old) child go through it are two entirely different things.  
As a parent you want to protect your children from such hurt.  But you cant...and even if you could you shouldn't  because only by experience can they know what it feels like.  And that, that is the best way for them to learn never to treat others this way.  I know I am making a big deal from a small thing, but it really upset me.  It broke my heart to watch Ellie try so hard to make new friends and for her to be so thoroughly rejected.  It broke my heart because i know this is only the first in a lifetime of similar hurts, and there will be much greater sorrow in her life too.  It broke my heart because the children mistreating her were so young themselves.  It broke my heart because I know exactly how it feels to be the one excluded.
I hope more than anything that I can teach Ellie to never, ever treat anyone this way.  I hope to teach her love, compassion, mercy, humility, kindness, and generosity.  I hope she can grow up to be the type of person who, when she sees things like this happen, she steps in and makes the singled out person feel welcome.  I hope she seeks out the excluded, the isolated, and the secluded.  I hope she can be a true friend.

I know this experience probably affected me more today because I am alone in a foreign country without family or friends and am feeling lonely (although to be fair we have already met some fantastic and very welcoming people, but friendships take time).  I know I cant protect her from everything (and that i shouldn't).  I know i really have no control...but that doesn't make it any easier.  Being a parent is hard.  I always knew it would be, and I know this experience was nothing compared to others we will have, but again, that doesn't make it any easier. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Ellies Couture Halloween

So...we didn't bring a Halloween costume for Ellie...because we are in Qatar and we figured they probably don't celebrate Halloween here right? Wrong. 
Apparently there are enough Americans that Halloween and trick or treating here exist. So, we found this picture (above) of a mermaid costume online and took it to a local tailor at the souq. We also went fabric shopping at the souq for the material for the costume.  We asked for a couple of small changes like sleeves but otherwise kinda left what they did up to them (as long as it looked like a mermaid).  They measured Ellie up, took our picture and fabric, and told us to come back in a week.

Here is a picture of the tailor shop.
Ellie getting her measurements taken.

 Checking out the final product with the tailor.
 So cute!!!  We love how it turned out and can't wait to take Ellie out for her first trick or treating experience (in Qatar of all places)!!
 Just in case you are wondering, this whole costume cost us less than $30 for the fabric and tailoring...which I thought was pretty dang awesome.  I'm going to have a hard time keeping myself in check because how cool would it be to go and have a bunch of dress up clothes made??!!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

First Few Weeks in Doha: A Mosque, Singing Sand Dunes, and American Fast Food

Well, its been about 3 weeks since we arrived in Doha, and honestly I love it so far.  Its foreign and overwhelming and crazy, but there are things I really like about it too.  I think I will save that for its own post though. 
The first few days I was here we stayed in Scott's company apartment in downtown westbay.  The view of the city was incredible, and our apartment was also right by the beach.

I love how just outside the huge skyscrapers of the city, you can see the sprawling residential areas. 
  Our view of the water!
 But, we didn't stay in the company housing for long because it was very expensive and we needed to save some money to get into our own place.  So, we moved in with some very generous family friends.  We will probably be here about a month and half in total.  You can see the compound they live in below. 
 And, this is the house we are staying in (below), until we can move into our own place.  We found something but have to wait for the current renters to vacate in about a month.  Most of the expats live in homes like this, called "villas".  A lot of them are in compounds but some are stand alone.  The benefit of a compound is that it is often an instant community of people from the US, they have amenities like pools and playgrounds, and they also offer a small level of security (although it is very safe here).  They have the feel of a duplex or townhouse, or even apartments...except for the fact that ALL the houses/apartments here are HUGE.  I mean really huge.  We looked at tons of villas to rent and almost all of them were WAY more space than we needed.  They all have as many or more bathrooms than bedrooms!  Its crazy!  They don't do anything on a small scale here.  Anything.  And the cost of living is crazy.  The lowest prices for apartments is around $2200/month.  Most are upwards of $3800/month!  Most expats have their living expenses paid for by their employers, but its still just crazy how expensive living here is.  Anyway, when we move into our new place I will post more on that topic.
Last week was a Muslim holiday here in Qatar, Eid Mubarak.  The holiday is to celebrate Abrahams sacrifice of Ishmael.  For us, it meant that Scott got a few days off work.  It was nice because we got to do some touristy stuff like visit the singing sand dunes.
This is my favorite thing we have done so far.  Out in the desert there are these HUGE sand dunes.  And when the wind hits them, or when you climb up or down them (anything causing the sand to move) they make this crazy humming sound.  It’s a natural phenomenon that only happens in about 35 places worldwide.  Certain conditions have to be met in order for the sand to “sing”, such as the sand grains have to be round and between 0.1 and 0.5 mm in diameter, the sand has to contain silica, and the sand needs to be at a certain humidity.  People also say the dunes make a louder noise when it’s hotter outside.   It was pretty amazing to experience.  It sounded like a very loud, very low pitched humming.  And you could feel the vibration of it in your feet as you walked in the sand.  
 It was very hard to climb to the top of the dunes, the climb was really steep and as you climbed sand was just sliding down faster than you could make progress.  But getting to the top was worth the hike, the view was incredible.  I will remember that sight all my life.   We went with some new friends and had a bonfire and bbq at the bottom of the dunes.  It was really fun.  Ellie loved the sand and just rolled in it the whole time.  She didn’t want to leave.  We gave her a bath when we got home and I swear a half a cup of sand came out of her hair and off her body.  

I love the desert.  Its funny to me how different it is here, but also how many things feel so familiar.

Another thing we did while Scott was off was go to the State Mosque (Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab Mosque).  The mosque is one of the largest religious structures in Qatar with an area of approximately 20,000m² (across three levels), a capacity for 12,000 worshippers and a land area of 175,000m². The main prayer hall has 28 large domes with a single minaret which is 65m in height.  It was beautiful.   

 We saw online that they would be giving guided tours, so we arrived at the Mosque and asked about the tour.  The security guard looked confused but told us that sure, we could go inside.  Hmmm.  Once inside, another guard said that I had to enter through the womens entrance.  So we walked all the way around (it was a long walk, that place was huge!) to the womens entrance.  At which they told me that I could not enter the prayer room with Ellie (no kids under 7 allowed).  So that was a bummer.  But we did get to walk around the hallways and main courtyard, which was amazing.  I would love to go back again sometime.  

One of the craziest things to me about Qatar is how many american chains are here.  Its unbelievable.  I mean, its the middle east!!  I guess Im just really surprised by how many american restraunts are here.  Mcdonalds, burger king, arbys, carls jr, dairy queen, chilis, macaroni grill, applebees, dunkin donuts, shake shack, krispy cremes, they are all here.  Ellie's happy about it...but I'm not, haha!

But I am happy to have found some of this!  Although I'm going to have to quit because soda costs like $1/can here and thats a habit I can't afford:)
And Ellie is happy to have found chocolate milk.  This girl is wanting for nothing...chicken nuggets, chocolate milk, and the world's biggest sandbox...what more could she ask for? :)
We'll post more soon!