Sunday, November 18, 2007

The ball I had at the Ball

This past week we celebrated the Marine Corps birthday with the annual Marine Corps Ball. Even though David isn't here, I was still planning on attending since the Ball is usually the party of the year. This year was no exception, it was the party to end all parties, started off a bit formal (as they all do) but by the end of the night everyone was dancing and laughing and just having a great time. Or, as the title of this post claims, having a ball at the Ball.

I didn't have to go dateless, as originally planned. A good friend of mine also has a husband who was out of the country during the ball, so she was my date. I have to say, going to the Ball with David last year was great, but going to the Ball with Wendi this year was pretty damn good as well. So good, in fact that we are going steady now. (Kidding!) But seriously, don't we make a cute couple?

Semper Fi, Marine Corps. See you at the ball next year.

Friday, November 16, 2007

My kid is weirder than your kid

I've blogged about this before, my kids and their lack of lovies. Well, Kyra now has adopted a lovey at the ripe old age of 22 months (today! Happy Birthday Kyra!).

Now, most kids have a doll, or a blanket or a pacifier. Pshaw. Not my kid.

The doll I tried to give her to nap with today? She's here, face down on the floor where she was thrown from the crib. Damn doll trying to take up my baby's sleeping space! Interloper! Behold the doll's resting place:

That doll, by the way, is so soft and cuddly (and comes with her own lovey, a nice soft pink blanket) that I would want to curl up with her. But no. Instead my daughter has attached herself to something a bit more unusual. Something left over from my days, oh so long ago before she was even a twinkle in my eye, when I worked in the publishing industry as a production editor. My daughter's lovey? A metal pica ruler. Sweet dreams baby girl.

See, my kid is weirder than your kid.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Spamming my own blog

Dave is still gone, I'm still getting used to working again and dammit, I'm tired. Too tired to blog. Well, either I'm too tired or too lazy, take your pick, but I just can't get it together to write a whole entry about something interesting. Or even something not so interesting. Instead I will SPAM my own blog with pictures. It's the lazy girl's guide to blogging!
Here's Blaine on the USS Wasp, doing an interpretive dance I call "ode to a big ass helicopter":
Here's the boy again on the USS Wasp. I call this one "I'm the coolest dude on this ship":
Here's Kyra on Halloween. Now, I know you might be asking yourself "I know she says she is tired, but couldn't she at least have gotten her kid a costume?" Well, I did. My girl was supposed to be Wonder Woman. I ordered it early, had to have it shipped to my parent's house and then they reshipped it to me. I jumped through hoops to get her this costume and she was going to look awesome. Then she refused to wear it. And here I'm using "refused" as a euphemism to mean "Screamed bloody murder, grabbed costume from my hands, wadded it up in a ball and threw it in the garbage can." Yes. She hated the costume that much. Instead, I put a striped dress on her and if anyone asked I said "Oh, she's a gypsy!"
Here are Blaine and Kyra at yet another Halloween party. Blaine is decked out in his Spider Man costume (now with extra muscles! I love that the super hero Halloween costumes come with built in muscles now. It cracks me up.) Kyra, once again, refused to wear her costume. The gypsy dress was dirty so this time I put on a froofy, frilly dress and told everyone she was a princess. Hey, a mom's gotta do what's she gotta do.
Blaine started swimming lessons today. Well, actually, he started swim lessons about 4 weeks ago as part of his PE class at school. Today he started a recreational swim class. Held at his school. Taught by the same teacher who teaches his PE swim class. He is in the beginner class, but by the end of the 30 minute session today, he was doing awesome. He will even put his face in the water now without goggles on. I never thought it would happen:
See? Look, he's totally under the water. Swimming like a fish! Of course he only stays under for about 5 seconds, but everyone has to start somewhere, right?

And we can't have a picture blog without at least one cheeze face. I blame Blaine for teaching her this. It's hard to get a non-cheeze picture of either of my kids now. Sigh.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Have you every had one of those weeks where life kicks your ass?

I'm having one of those months.

I got an email from my brother the other day telling me it was time to update my blog - that it had been almost 3 weeks since my last post. I thought "he's crazy! No way has it been that long!". But he's not crazy. Well, he is. But not about this.

This month I finished my work at Blaine's school. Ramadan ended and the girl I was subbing for was able to return to working full-time. At the end of Ramadan, we celebrated the Eid al-Fitr holiday by loading up the kids and heading up to Abu Dhabi to visit our friends Scott and Heidi and to join in the birthday celebration for their son, Nicholas (who happens to be one of Blaine's best friends in the whole wide world! Just ask him, he will tell you so). We also got to snuggle on their little dude, Andrew.

After returning from Abu Dhabi, we got to tour a Navy ship here in Muscat Port. Blaine loved that. We thought he would be totally awed by the helicopters on the deck, the big guns, the landing crafts inside the ship. And he was. But the part he liked most? The water fountains. I swear, this kid stopped at every single water fountain on the ship to take a drink. Who knew water fountains were so fascinating.

After the ship tour, we had one more day off to just rest and relax before school and work started up again. And it started for all of us. During the time I was working at the school, I also applied and interviewed for another job (not at the school - elsewhere, but I don't want to say where). Well, I got the job, so the day after the holiday was over, I started my new job. I've been working almost a week now, and even though this job is part-time 20 hours a week, it's killing me. In a good way. David is gone again for work, so it's helping keep me busy. Very busy. Between single-parenting, working and being a room mother for my son's kindy class, I drop into bed exhausted every day.

In other words, updates may be sporadic at best. I hope to have some pics up of our trip to Abu Dhabi and our ship tour in the next few days, but I'm not promising anything.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The waiting is the hardest part

I know I've discussed this before, but living in Muscat is fairly easy - it's a modern city with malls, huge grocery stores, warehouse stores, fast food franchises and, of course, Starbucks. (We all know of my obsession with Mocha Frappachinos). But there are a lot of little differences that catch you unaware.

Much like how the "family" bathroom at the mall is not really for families if they include males over the age of 5, you have to learn to navigate around the differences. A few examples:

At KFC, it pays to read the menu. It will save you time when you are ordering and you ask for mashed potatoes and gravy and are met with a blank stare. KFC in Muscat doesn't make mashed potatoes.

Speaking of food, you can't order a cheese pizza here. If you want a cheese pizza, you have to ask for a margarita pizza. And I'm not talking about ordering at a ritzy Italian place, this is true even if you are at Pizza Hut or Papa John's.

At bookstores, pay attention to price tags. A paperback book can cost you around 12 bucks.

If you like pork (and I don't, so I fit in well here) be prepared to pay dearly for it. There is only one store that I know of that has a "pork room". I went in it the other day just to check it out. A pack of bacon in the US costs around 4 bucks. Here it will set you back about 15.

And we all know about the happy meal toys.

But the difference that I most often forget about and get awkwardly reminded of are the waiting rooms. There are women's waiting areas and men's waiting areas. I always forget to look for the signs. So does David. He ended up sitting in the women's waiting area at the DMV until someone pointed out that he was on the wrong side. I had a dilemma when I took Blaine to the hospital last week. Do I sit in the women's area or is Blaine not allowed there? But I can't sit in the men's area because I'm not allowed. I was stumped. I didn't want to offend anyone so I ended up letting Blaine sit in the men's area and I just stood against the wall that separated the two areas. I wish they had a family waiting area. But then again, who knows if men would really be allowed in there.

Ooh, I am editing this because I just remembered one more subtle difference. You can't get a hamburger here. Cheesburger, yes. Beefburger, certainly. But not a hamburger. Even though most hambugers have no ham, I guess it's just easier to rename them then to try to explain it over and over again.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Changes afoot!

Well, you may notice some pictures missing on my blog. The reason for this is Flickr. Not that it's Flickr's fault. Let me explain.

Flickr has been having problems recently with photo misappropriation. Some people have had their photos lifted and used in bogus ads. Some people have noticed the fake ORKUT accounts being set up using other people's pictures (OPP?).

I didn't have these problems (that I know of) but I did have an odd person want to make me a contact on Flickr. I don't feel like getting into details, and I'm not trying to be mysterious, but when I checked out the person's profile, I decided it was time to make all my photos private. Friends and family can view them if they are invited. So, if you are a friend or family member, shoot me an email at augieandrenegade(at)yahoo(dot)com. I will send you an invite. If you aren't a freak.

In the meantime, there are holes on my blog where pictures used to be and I will slowly (re: maybe today, maybe never) go back through and re-add them manually from my personal files.

Sorry for the hoop jumping.

Monday, September 24, 2007

And this is how exciting my life is

David got on a plane yesterday for a business trip. Of course, this means that I ended up in the ER with one of the kids yesterday. These things always happen when David is away. Always. Without fail. If it's not one of the kids, it's something with the house or car. Sigh.

I have been working at Blaine's school for the past 2 weeks. Because of the Ramadan holiday, the Muslim workers leave by 2 PM, so they need people to help out. I am working in the school library (ah, a library - my favorite place to be!). Yesterday I get to school and I stopped in the cafeteria to buy some lunch tickets for Blaine and on my way out, I run into Blaine's class on their way back from recess. The teacher's assistant says "hey, glad I ran into you! I just dropped Blaine off in the nurse's office. He fell on the playground and bumped his head and is bleeding and we can't tell if it's his nose or his lip". I run to the nurse's office and there is my poor boy, standing at the sink with the nurse, covered in sand and blood and crying. He fell off the rope ladder and did a face plant in the sand. We get him cleaned up and determine that he had a bloody nose, not lip, and we ice his head and all seems fine. Once he is calm, I walk him to class and tell him I will come and get him as soon as school is over and he can hang out with me in the library and we will ride home together.

45 minutes later, I head down to his class to get him and, as we are walking back to the library, he tells me that his hand hurts. I look and don't see anything wrong. No swelling or bruising. During the 30 minutes we are in the library while I finish my work, Blaine complains again and again about his right wrist. He's holding it with his left hand and keeps saying "It hurrrrrrrrts". So, we head out and instead of going home we head to the local ER to get it looked at. The doctor orders x-rays. Blaine is excited at the prospect of having pictures taken of his skeleton.

5 x-rays later (3 of his hand, two of his head because of the size of the lump on it) we determine that he is ok. No break, just a slight sprain.

Blaine is now more concerned about the absence his brain on his head x-rays. "Where's my brain? It's in my head! Where is it?" All complaints about his wrist cease because of the new missing brain dilemma.

Ah, my life. One excitement after the next.

In other news, I have posted some new videos of Kyra talking and signing. I am trying to keep track of her progress as we work with her so that I can gauge her improvement. She's doing pretty good, picking up new signs every day. In the videos she only does one sign "please". She also repeats her latest favorite word "spiderman". David and I didn't teach her that one. Guess who did? Oh, and she also looks at me like "what? I don't know that" when I ask her to say "Love you!". Yeah, like we never, ever say that to her.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Secret Recipe?

Last night I stopped in at the local Kentucky Fried Chicken to pick up some food for my kids. As I was standing at the counter waiting for my order, I glanced over and saw a big dry-erase board behind the manager's desk. This board was in full view of anyone who came into the restaurant and it was a list of all the things that needed to be done that week. The third item on the list, written in bold red ink, in all capital letters, with extra exclamation points read as follows:


Sunday, September 9, 2007

Adventures in Oman, part 3

Remember how well David and I planned our previous adventure? No water. No food. Touring around on day when most shops and tourist attractions are closed. So, naturally, we decided to do it again. This time we brought plenty of food and water, but we still went out on Friday (for those who have not read the previous entry, Friday is like a Sunday here). Not only did we go out on Friday, but we went out after 1 PM. What's the big deal about going out after 1? Most shops here in Oman take a siesta during the hottest part of the day - usually from 1 to 4 PM. See our brilliance now? We go out on a Friday = most stuff closed. We go out after 1 PM = siesta for those businesses that were actually open. You know you want to come visit us and go for a tour with us. We can take you great places - and you can look at them from the outside and try to imagine what the inside would have looked like. FUN!

Onto part 3. We had so much luck previously with the Five Forts Tour, that we decided to repeat the exact route. Crazy, right? Some friends of ours had heard about the tour we did and wanted to go see the forts, so we all loaded up and they followed us off the beaten path to the first fort, Sur ar Rumays. I didn't even get out of the car at Sur ar Rumays because Kyra was sleeping. And it was hot. So while David and Blaine took our friends exploring, I sat in the air conditioned car with Kyra. I will be applying for Mensa membership shortly.

Our next stop was the Barka fort. Barka was the fort we skipped last time in order to feed our children. This time we actually stopped, got out of the car, turned the cameras on...and the fort was closed. Yes. Padlocked tightly.

We asked a few locals who were hanging out in lawn chairs near the fort when it would open. Our thinking was that maybe it was closed for siesta and would be open again in another hour or two. Their answer? Sunday. We decided not to hang around until then. But we did let the kids play with the cannons!

After checking out the outer walls of the fort and the cannons, Dave and Kyra sat down to plan the next leg of our journey:

We left Barka and headed for Nakal fort. Nakal was open, but we took no pictures as we had taken plenty last time we were there. As you may recall, Nakal was where we ended our tour last time because it was so hot and late. Well, Nakal was the last fort on our tour again this time, but it wasn't our last stop. Just a few kilometers from Nakal Fort is Ayn ath Thuwarah (say that 3x fast!). Ayn ath Thuwarah is home to some beautiful hot springs with a lovely picnic area. We stripped off shoes and socks and went wading. Well, David, Kyra and I went wading. Blaine went falling. Multiple times. He kept saying "I slipped!"

Poor kid ended up having to ride home in a t-shirt and underwear because that's all the dry clothes I had for him in the diaper bag (brilliant planning strikes again! I wouldn't have even had those if not for the fact that I haven't unpacked the diaper bag since our flight here almost 2 months ago. Moral? Procrastination pays!).

With a few more pictures of the hot springs, including the beautiful waterfall and the picture of the lady doing her laundry, we packed it up and headed home since it was getting dark.

Next time we head out, we have vowed to start our journey with a new destination. We have also vowed to pack better, plan better and to travel on a Thursday. It could happen.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Girl

If anyone had tried to tell me 2 years ago that my second child would be so absolutely different from my first child, I would have laughed. Really, they are just kids. Babies. How different can an infant/toddler/young child be? Sure, when they get older, when they are teenagers, there will be differences, but when they are young? No different. That's just crazy talk!

Then Kyra joined our family. And I learned just how different 2 kids can be.

Blaine was a difficult baby. Not colicky difficult. More like "oh my God why won't he sleep and why does he eat all the time" difficult. He wasn't unhappy - he was a happy, happy baby. He was just always hungry and never sleepy (or so it seemed). Kyra was the exact opposite. From the moment she was born she was a good sleeper. By the time she was 3 or 4 months old, she would only get up once a night. By 6 or 7 months, she slept through the night (unless she was teething). She had her own feeding schedule and she stuck to it. So easy. I felt like I had paid my dues with Blaine and was rewarded for my sacrifices with Kyra.

Blaine walked at 10 months - never crawled. He fell quite often and usually was sporting road rash on his face or knees. But, he never got into stuff. Well, not much anyway - and usually only if it was completely accessible - right in front of him begging him to mess with it. He didn't climb nor did he open every cabinet, closet or door he could. I never needed baby gates with him. Kyra is the exact opposite. She didn't walk until she was 1, but from the moment she could move, she has climbed. And climbed. But she's so careful that she rarely falls. Oh, and does she ever get into things. Childproofing has reached a whole new level in our home since Kyra has been able to move.

But man, I would not trade her for the world. She is awesome. I am so lucky to be her mom. She's sweet and funny and she laughs and laughs and loves and just makes my world a better place every single day. She loves to say hello to everyone she sees - waving furiously and repeating "hewooo" until the person she is waving at waves back. She loves to say "buhbuh" and wave again before moving on to the next person she wants to say "hewooo" too.

She doesn't talk much. We had a preliminary speech evaluation done with her, since she is 19 months old and likes to scream and point as her primary means of communication. Her hearing is fine. Her receptive language is top-notch. Her expressive language? Not so great. She babbles a lot but she doesn't have many words. We have gone back to basics and we are teaching her sign language. She's picking it up quickly - please, eat, more - and man it's making our life so much easier. The screaming is less because, without words, she can tell us what she wants. Hopefully in the next few months her language will improve, but if not, we will have a full speech evaluation done and start therapy.

The most important person in her life is her brother. Her dad and I are in the top 5, but I don't know that we will ever replace Blaine - "Ba" - as the center of her universe. She does what he does, loves what he loves, and wants to be with him all the time. The first day he rode the bus to school she cried and cried because she wanted to go too. But when he got home, she looked like this:

She's perfected the Blaine Cheese Face. And I love it. And I love her.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

How to tell you are not in America, part 3

If doing the laundry involves a trip to the local hot springs, you might not be in America.

On another note, the picture above was taken at the hot springs just a few kilometers from the Nakhal Fort. That trip will be the subject of the next installment of "Adventures in Oman". I'll get around to writing it soon. I hope. Maybe after my laundry is done (and no, I don't have to tote it to the stream, thank God).

Saturday, September 1, 2007

This is how we roll

Well I asked if someone wanted to come and help me split 7 pans of Pioneer Woman cinnamon rolls. Since no one hopped on a plane, I am afraid that Blaine, David, Kyra and I are going to have to suffer alone.Oh, the tragedy. I will never, ever, make these again. Because if I do, I will be one of those people you see on TLC's Big Medicine. Seriously. These things are so good, I expect to have them all eaten in 2 days, tops. I will also be in a diabetic coma. I told David I was going to take some to friends and he said "1 pan Jen. You can only give away 1 pan. I will eat the rest." Fat chance, buddy. Blaine and I have a head start.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

How to tell you are not in America, part 2

Last week, after the New Student Orientation at Blaine's school, I took the kids out for lunch. We went to a local pizza place, and they have their own version of "happy meals" for the kids. It includes a drink, a kid-sized cheese pizza and, of course, a toy.

So, that brings us to part 2: The Toys. If your happy meal toys look like this - you might not be in America.

I call this one "Top of Death". It came with a long string, ostensibly to wrap around the top to make it spin on the extremely sharp nail that is sticking out of it. Just the toy for a 5 year old and his 19 month old sister.

I like to call this doll "Propecia Patty". As you can see, she has an unfortunate thinning hair situation going on. And the ironic part is that she came with a comb. Kyra just looked at the doll, then at me like "you have GOT to be kidding me." And the hair? It wasn't the worst part of this doll. Nope.

It's kind of hard to tell in this photo (because I have awesome photography skillz) but her arms? They are completely flat. Like Gilderoy Lockhart tried to mend a broken bone. Kyra, who is not the most discriminating of kids, doesn't even want to play with her. She's currently sitting on my desk next to the Top of Death. Soon they will both be sitting in the trash can. I guess it wasn't such a "happy" meal for Propecia Patty.

Monday, August 27, 2007

First day of Kindergarten!

Doesn't he look smart? Spiderman backpack, Hot Wheels shoes, motorcycle shirt and "tan"fastic Four water bottle.

Here he is by his locker. It's got his name on it and everything so I guess this whole school thing is official. (Note the "I'm humoring my mother with this fake smile" going on in this picture. He really just wanted to get into his classroom).

And here he is, signing in. He doesn't even need me to do that for him any more. Such a big kid. Such an awesome kid. And he's only been at school for 2 hours and I miss him. I'm not the only one missing him, either. His sister is walking around the house looking for him. She keeps going into his room and calling out "Ba?" I bet she's going to be as excited as I am to pick him up this afternoon.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, I didn't cry. Much. And I waited until I was back in the car. This mothering thing is hard.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Forecast: Tomorrow expect much sobbing (and pictures!)

Tomorrow is Blaine's first day of Kindergarten. Even though he attended a full-day pre-k program last year, I am wholly emotionally unprepared for him to be a Kindergartner. How do I know this? Last Wednesday, during "New Student Orientation" I almost started crying no less than 5 times. And what sort of activities were making me so emotional? Oh, things like buying his PE uniform, filling out paperwork and seeing his new classroom.


I am ok with that. I fully embrace it. I know that it's because Kindergarten is the official start of his school life. It's a big step. And he is my first child, so all of his firsts are my firsts as a parent. I've gotten choked up at other firsts that are far more stupid than this. (Example? First St. Patrick's Day Parade. When he was 9 months old. Yes. Seriously). I'm not sure I will get as emotional when it's Kyra's first day of Kindy, because it won't be my first time experiencing it. I will be much more prepared. Hard-hearted. I will be tough-love mommy.

Who am I kidding? I will probably be a basket case then as well. Because, you know, I don't plan on having any more children. So, taking her to Kindergarten (3.5 years in the future) will be my last time doing so. I will find any excuse for my emotional freak outs.

I just hope my husband (who is back from his week-long sojourn in Germany) remembers to bring tissues with him tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

How to tell you are not in America

If your bathroom signs look like the ones above, you might not be in the US. Just sayin'.
Also, while on the "not in America" subject, I would like to thank Amy of Mom's Daily Dose and Amalah for the mention on her expat blogroll. I appreciate it! If any of you reading are here from there (make sense?) welcome! Also, feel free to check out my adventures in Tbilisi, Georgia - my previous home away from home.

Adventures in Oman, Part 2

Oh, yes. I can see the joy on your faces now. I'm actually posting a Part 2. Shocking and thrilling all at the same time. Without further ado, I present Adventures in Oman, Part 2 - the Five Forts Tour! As always, you can find all the fun photos (look! a rock! cute kids! walls! more rocks! canons!) on flickr.

Ah, it was a cool day. Perfect for touring forts. That have no air conditioning. Because they were built a long time ago.

So, we put on our sweaters, scarves and extra socks (kidding!), loaded up the kids and the sunscreen, packed a cooler with some juice for the kids (but no water because we are so very smart) and hit the road. Now, the guide book claimed that this was an excursion that would take a whole day, but you would get to see 5 forts. Obviously the authors were not travelling with a 5 year old and a 19-month old. So, for us, it became the 2.5 forts tour. But I digress.

Look! Coffee pots! The guide book actually had this as a point of interest. So, being the tourist that I am, I made David stop so I could take a picture.

But where, you are asking, are the forts? It took a little bit of work to find our first fort, Sur ar Rumays. We turned off the main highway in to a small village and then had to follow our GPS to get to the fort. There were no more roads - more like dirt trails. You see, it really is an abandoned fort. Pretty much neglected. Unrestored. Crumbling apart. But really, really fascinating. I think this was my favorite fort of the 2.5 that we saw.

Blaine totally dug this fort as well. He explored every nook and cranny. So, it's a good thing he was wearing proper footwear. Wouldn't want any pesky nails, or, oh say, HUMONGOUS SPIKES IN OLD DOORS to accidentally pierce his tender flesh.

Hey, they are Spiderman sandals. Of course they kept his feet safe.

After touring the fort we hopped in the car and did a bit more off-roading to get back to the actual road. From there we stopped at another point of interest, the beach. The beach. Hot and not all that exciting, so we will skip the pictures from there. (Once again, if you want to see them, go to flickr.)

Our next fort was supposed to be the Barka fort. But here is where our expert planning skills (Dave: "wanna go look at some forts?" Jen "ok - hey kids get your shoes on!") throw a little monkey wrench into the fort touring. At this point it is 111 degrees outside. We've just gone for a walk on the beach. It's 1 PM. So now we have 2 hot kids. Not only hot, but also starving. But they are not thirsty because we brought them juice (see, good parenting!). We also have 2 hot and hungry parents - who are thirsty because we packed no water and didn't want to have to fight the kids for their juice boxes. We decide to skip actually getting out of the car and touring the fort - we didn't even take pictures, we just drove past the fort (look kids! big fort! wow!) and went in search of a place to eat. With air conditioning. This is how Barka fort became the .5 on our fort tour.

Here's where our expert planning skills, once again, come into play. It's Friday. Friday here, especially in a smaller, more conservative town like Barka, is like a Sunday in a tiny town in the bible belt. Everything is pretty much closed. The one "coffee" shop that was open had no women in it at all. We decided to skip stopping in and hanging out with the locals - we didn't want to offend anyone. Instead, we drove back toward the highway and along the way we spy a grocery store! We get out, shop - bread, peanut butter and jelly, oreos - you know the four food groups. Oh, yeah, we also got some water. Lots of water.

It was interesting shopping in this quiet town on a Friday - we were quite the spectacle. I'm taking a wild guess that they don't get too many Americans - Blaine and Kyra were ooh'd and ahh'd over. Everyone was so helpful, the manager kept coming over and asking us if he could help us find anything. After we checked out and were on our way to the car the manager came running out of the store yelling "BLAINE! BLAINE!" and waving something in his hands. He gave Blaine a set of crayons and colored pencils with a coloring book as a gift for shopping at his store. How cool is that?

After eating a roadside lunch in a shady spot (with the car running and the air conditioner at full blast), we were ready to continue on our way to the next fort, Nakhal fort.

Nakhal is a great fort - I would actually love to go back again in cooler weather and spend more time exploring. As it was so hot, we pretty much just hit the highlights of the fort. But there are many highlights as the fort is beautifully restored. Check out the entrance (and the cute kids!)

What troopers Kyra and Blaine were. They really seemed to enjoy themselves, except when we wanted to take Blaine's picture by one of the canons. For some reason he really thought that the canon was going to go off. We could not convince him otherwise.

Not long after I snapped this picture, David and I decided it was time to leave. Standing on rooftops in the 110+ degree heat is not a whole lot of fun. We loaded the kids back in the car and headed home. We will be going out again to finish the 5 forts tour. But I think we will wait until it's a tad bit cooler before we do.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Adventures in Oman, Part 1

The title, of course, implies there will be a part 2. Implies. Does not promise. If you read The Other Georgia, you know that sometimes...ok, most of the time, I post sporadically. I also promise to post things and then, well, I forget. So, I'm hoping there will be a part 2. Even a part 3 or 4 or 5. But I'm not promising such updates. Just so we are clear before we start.

Thursday night* David and I left the kids with a babysitter and headed down through Ruwi, out to Mutrah Harbor and from there up to the Shangri-La resort. After driving around the Shangri-La and checking it out, we headed back down to Mutrah to the Souk to check it out. After wandering around the souk for a little while, we stopped and had dinner before heading home. So, here are some photo highlights of the trip. The whole set can be found on flickr.

This first shot is of the "gates" to the harbor city of Mutrah (or Muttrah - there are many different spellings). I have been told they are replicas, but I still think they are pretty cool.

This next shot is a man-made waterfall with mosaic that is in one of the cliffs between Mutrah and the Shangri-La resort.

In the distance you can see the Shangri-La resort. I think we were 10 minutes or so from actually arriving there because of the way the road twists and turns. The road, by the way, is completely deserted. There is a turn off along the way for the dive center, but other than that, there is nothing out there until you hit the resort.

This is a dhow in a traffic circle outside of Mutrah. This dhow has an interesting history - it sailed from Muscat to China in 1980, a journey of some 8 months, to try to replicate the story of Sinbad the Sailor, whom many claim came from Oman. You can find the whole story of the boat and the journey here. It's quite fascinating. The boat was made without a single nail.

I just thought this was a pretty shot of the water and the sunset. This was on the road between Mutrah and Shangri-La, as we were heading back to Mutrah and the souk.

And this is the most important picture of all. This is LuLu Hypermarket. This is the one in Ruwi, I usually shop at the one in Muscat. I will have to get a picture of the one in Muscat, as it has even more neon and flashing lights and is a bit larger. The picture doesn't give you a really good idea of how large the store is. Take your average Super Wal-Mart, and add a second story as well as a few thousand extra sq. feet. That's LuLu.

I don't have any pictures of the souk because it was dark by the time we got there and Omanis are also not keen on having their picture taken. The souk was nice, but we didn't really explore much as we were both starving and were looking forward to having dinner without having to corral 2 kids. I'm sure I will go back to the souk again, and I bet if I ask nicely, I will be able to take some pictures of the shops, if not the people. And maybe I will post them. You never know, it could happen.

*Thursday night is the same as a Saturday night in the US. Our weekend here is on Thursday and Friday. The work week starts on Saturday. It takes a little getting used to.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I bet you think I'm joking

But we played Candyland again today. Twice. Blaine has other games. But he is on some weird obsessive Candyland kick.

In other news, I now have transportation. Wheeeeeeeee. I drove out to Blaine's new school today, just so I could be sure I knew how to get there. We go on the 22nd for New Student Orientation. It sounds so official and it kind of makes my heart skip a beat. I'm going to have a Kindergartener this year. How did that happen? Funny conversation I had with Blaine yesterday, as he ate chicken nuggets for lunch - which is something he eats for lunch or dinner quite often:

Me: Dude, you really like chicken nuggets
Blaine: Yeah, chicken nuggets are good for me
Me: I don't know. I think if you eat too many you might turn into a chicken nugget
Blaine: But I don't want to turn into a chicken nugget. I just want to turn into a boy

He already has. Such a big, smart, funny boy.