Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Little Narch Turns Three

We made it to Lebanon. Just in time for a HUGE party with some of our favorite people.

Do you think Little Narch had a good time?

She had this sneaky expression on her face periodically all day!

But who doesn't like to be the center of attention on their birthday?

Lots of people were there including family from Syria 
that has not seen Little Narch since she was 6 months old.

Ammo Nabil Cooked - We had Halloumi Shish kabobs.
Highly reccomended for vegetarians at BBQ's
But the kabobs pictured are chicken

It was wonderful to be together

And of course Amtu Petra NEVER misses a photo op ;)~

Then it was time for presents - She waited so patiently until she heard the word
and she couldn't handle it anymore. She ripped into those babies before we could even gather!
We didn't care. Everyone was just so happy to be together.
We sang Happy Birthday!
The birthday flame couldn't be extinguished despite Little Narch's best efforts :)
She cut her first cake!
It was worth the effort it took to get here!

Happy Birthday Little Narch! Your spirit has brought a tremendous joy to the lives that you touch!


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Should I Stay or Should I Go?!

Things were up in the air until the very last minute regarding returning to Lebanon, for various reasons. 
If I wanted to catch my plane, I was instructed to be at the airport at 445 pm as my flight was scheduled for 645 pm. It takes 30 min to get to the airport but if there is traffic.... Who knows?!

Firas called at 330 pm and said that he thought my visa was sorted and since there was some reluctance about this trip i should just stay home.

So I stopped putting on my makeup. 

Firas called Lebanon around 345 pm to tell them I wasn't coming. We knew they would be bummed but we didn't know family from Syria was in town and a HUGE party was planned for Little Narch's birthday. So they were a smidge beyond bummed. 

I get it. They have never had a birthday with Little Narch. 

Firas and I were also torn.

We were speechless on the phone. 

Was there even enough time to catch the plane?

Calls back and forth. Stay. Go. Stay. Go tomorrow. Stay. 

"Little Narch, I don't think we will make it to Lebanon."

Unexpected uncontrollable tears from her. 

"my teta" she screams

A few minutes pass. Firas calls and I pick up. I found myself putting my shoes on and gathering things. 

The words fall off my tounge, "I'm catching a cab. I'll call you with an update.  *click*  Joelle grab your shoes we are going to try and catch our plane. We are in hurry mode!"

"ok ok ok I'm grabbing them. Yayaya teta teta teta" she put her shoes on.

Im in cool, calm but fast mode. I grab my phone. Ipad. Ipod. Check to make sure I have the right passports and my ticket confirmation. I have cash and water. The marriage license in case they want to know why I'm back. I grab my foundation and mascara. Stuff it in my purse. We are out the door. I bet less than five minutes has passed. 

We are at the elevator...

"Mom, I'll push the button!"

Thank god she remembered or valuable time could have been wasted. I was racking my brain....

"Did I leave anything of utter importance? Sure, I was going to pack snacks, a change of clothes, the camera... But I left a lot of stuff in Lebanon and I'll grab snacks on the plane... if I make it?"
We get to the ground floor and start walking. My plan is to walk toward the train. If I see a cab I'll wave it down. If by the time I get to the station there isn't one, I'll catch the next train to the closest stop possible.

That method is not preferred because I don't even know which direction the airport is so it will involve lots of questions, deer in the headlamp stares and yes ma'ams. (Which I HATE! Because it's not an answer and it proves I'm not being understood.)
Three cabs pass none are free. I get closer to the train and the fourth cab stops.
"I need to go to the airport. I only have 500 dirhams will you have change?"
"Yes ma'am no problem."
I show him the 500 bill "I'm in a hurry to catch a plane you have lots of change?"
(just in case he is yes ma'aming me)

He pulls out his wallet shows me and says "yes" 

Touché! I like him.

He begins to drive. I tell him in my simplest English the scenario. Joelle chimes in about her Teta.
He speeds up. (His grasp of English  has obviously been underestimated.)
We got to the airport. I pay, thank and tip him.
It was 527 pm.
They signed me in after some begging. I got through security fast. (all I had was my purse) 
Everything went smooth from there once the security guy drove me out to the plane... and here is Little Narch sleeping on the flight.


We are an amazing team!

No time equals no pictures :) no camera and only an iphone equals interesting first day post but you will get one. Don't you worry :)

On the Hunt

I am on the hunt for a lot of items that meet my specific criteria.

One item in particular that I have been searching for is the perfect kitchen for Little Narch.  

She loves that blasted little kitchen she has in Minnesota. (I do too *sniffle*)

Every day she reminds me that I have to share my kitchen with her until she gets one of her own.

I have been researching stores, checking the local Craigslist type listings all in search for play kitchen worthy of my daughters creativity!

Lots of kitchens are out there.

I'm not interested in ones that are so elaborate that it does all the playing for you. In addition, I want something that looks nice in my home - not an eye sore. As well as something that will last for the next *ahem* Bitsy Narch. (No, I am not.)

Basically no stickers and no crappy plastic.

Pretend kitchens in the US are costly so I was expecting a little investment, but I was not expecting it to be double. (Which is why I was searching used). Apparently pretending is only for the rich or expatriates willing to fork over their hard earned cash.

I got really tired of looking, falling in love with a used one and not getting a call back from the seller.

The day that we celebrated Little Narch's birthday together, we ended up test driving cars. Little Narch was a trooper per usual and charmed the sales guy out of most of his candy dish.

When we stopped at the mall for dinner, we passed by a store that we have passed time and time again.

Parents guilt was setting in as it IS her 3rd Birthday, and we haven't thrown a party or gotten a cake PLUS she was lugged around test driving cars all day. So we go in to check it out.

We see a few. One meets 'the standards' but has a ghastly number attached to it and the other is plastic, makes a crap ton of noise and has stickers ALL over it.

A salesman pulled out a magazine to show us a kitchen they had in stock but not on the floor, not as ghastly of a number was attached but it was still expensive.

Little Narch and I left the store, she explained to me that sometimes we get things and other times we don't.

Then there are the *other* times that The Mayor and First Lady are tricksters. 

This was the point she told us "This is the BEST birthday ever!"
We looked at each other and decided the kitchen was worth every penny

It took 3.5 hours to assemble. By the time we were finished... We couldn't send her to bed, so she stayed up until 11:30 baking cookies and cake and hasn't stopped playing with it since she woke up today.

She doesn't have a bed?!?!? but the girl can cook!

I was really attached to somethings that I left behind. Mostly because of the memories they reminded me of... The little red kitchen included...

Watching Joelle grow and play in her new environment reminds me that memories are being creating. .... its nice living in the present :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

First Lady takes on Dubai..

With Little Narch in tow :)

In order for me to gain residency there are tons of hoops that need to be jumped through. This one paper has to be filed here and typed there... it's all very confusing and no one gives you a straight process.

I was waiting for The Mayor and I to do it together but realized this is just silly.

I am = a perfectly capable adult.

I know what you're thinking... "You're just hoping a cab to another building to do some document work, what's the big deal?"

Sure it sounds simple. I did it in the US and didn't think twice about it, why should it be any different?

Little Narch and I got ready and made a plan!

What you have to remember is even though everyone speaks english... I can barely understand. Once I'm more familiar with the area and the names of places being used I will understand more.

Case and point: I ask for directions to a place Instead of directions I get "guldin bimind perk"


I handed the phone to the cab driver and they figured out I was headed to Gold & Diamond Park.

I tell the man on the phone that I've never been to Gold & Diamond Park and I need specific instruction "just go in and ask for 17".

I'm expecting a building that I walk in and ask for suite 17....

It's a complex of God only knows how many buildings that slightly resembles Arbor Lakes Shopping Center on steroids - an outdoor shopping center in Minnesota- complete with apartments, offices, stores, restaurants ext.

I ask for 17 and no one seems to know what I am talking about so I tell the cabby to drop me off and I'll walk.. in Dubai... in the heat of the day...and the guy laughs. I'm very funny to cabbies.

What am I supposed to do? Pay him to drive around when he nor I have any clue where we are going? He's obviously taking advantage of this situation.

On my walk Joelle and I breath to keep me from throwing up. We grab waters and juice. We make a pact to stick together and figure this out.

I realize, by observation, that I am at building 4 I decide that is what 17 meant. *sigh*

I prepare myself for a walk and stick to the shaded areas and decide I can't rush. We could be in the heat for 13 of these buildings. We window shop, stop by air conditioned places to cool off. Grab more water, juice and pretzels.

I stop to help the kid with her juice turn around and look up.....

A typing center.

This is what I was looking for but in 17.. I'm at 5.... I decide to just ask and see if they can help and they can.

However, they inform me that I don't have all the paperwork I need. *sigh*

I have to go to the electric company to get a special number then come all the way back. I can't call. The damn paper must be stamped by the electric company.

I hop another cab. This time I have awesome directions and a cabbie who knows where he is going.

We get there. Get a number. Go through the line. Get what we need. We leave.

There are no cabs in sight and my prepaid phone has just informed me I'm out of minutes.

I see a sign for the metro.. It's a walk but I start. No shade. I tell Joelle 'We are problem solvers and we aren't going to crack under pressure or heat.'

'Alright Mom! I'm not an egg'

Can't find the train station.

But I see a smaller mall and I figure it's lunch time, there is AC, and probably cabs.

We reached the mall and I looked back. Its amazing how close something looks when you've arrived at your destination.

There is a small arcade and I indulge Little Narch, she has been such a trooper.

There is a guy trying the claw machine going after a specific horse. He's obviously doing it all wrong and I could do it much better.

I also know from experience that it's harder than it looks.

The guy leaves. Joelle begs. I unwillingly give in.

The claw goes down on the horse... And grabs it but I know it's not good enough. We walk away.

She screams!!!

The claw had the horse by the leg and she flipping won the horse!

Our stoke of good luck! I think I was happier than she was!

We walk to the restaurant beaming sit down and relax.

(We passed the guy who was going after the horse and he stared at me.. I didn't care.)

At this point I have called Firas and thrown in the towel for the day. It's too much to get back to 'guldin bimind perk' plus file the paperwork at the other office I have yet to find. I will just start again tomorrow.

We finish eating and I see out of the corner of my eye the word 'TYPING'.


We walk over and see it is a similar office to where we had just been.

I go in and explain my request and the lady says 'ok give me your paperwork.'

I do and we wait. She is typing away.

I'm thinking... 'Great so now all I have to do is go to that other office tomorrow :) this is awesome... Man that horse was a stroke of good luck! Joelle has been so good today! I'm really proud of us!'

'Mam.. Is that a flat?'


Then she is done and asks me for a large amount of money.

I gasp internally - it was supposed to be cheap... What did I do?

I pay while asking what my next step is.

"You're finished. Keep this paper with your important documents and only give copies."

"I thought I had to go to the office and file it."

"I'm authorized to file these online and you paid me the fee that is owed to register."

I was sooo happy "I think I love you!"

We laugh.

She replies "Rough day?"

"More like rough three months"

We went outside, found a cab straight away.. He didn't know how to get to my building but he got me in the area and I tell him I'll walk.

Crazy American women who walk makes cabbies laugh. It's very funny to them, and me.

Then we are home and Little Narch begs to take a nap - its well deserved...

I still have more to do before I'm a resident but this was a big step.

I guess sometimes all a Princess needs to be her own knight in shining armor is a horse ;)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Redecorating Narchville

I am not exactly sure what my style is....

I like clean and simple lines. No frills. 

I like livable. Comfortable. 

Honestly... I have never lived in a home that I truly decorated from start to finish. My house in the Minnesota was .... we will call it 'lived in' :)

I feel as though that chapter of my life is resolved. The person that I really am is very organized and detail oriented. 

She is also lucky enough to have a husband with similar tastes... Not always the similar ideas.. lol. but similar taste.

So we have raided a few furniture stores and have done the IKEA trip twice now and we have a decent start. 

Starting with nothing, albiet stressful and expensive, really is the way to go. I also wouldn't say that we have spent THAT much money. We dont have nearly everything but we are living comfortably. 

Here are some pics of where we are currently... 

(Pics from my ipad :/ I had to jimmy rig the pics on this post bc my computer is acting up)

My new kitchen cart.  When I cook I am all over the place and I dont have enough counter space. This isn't exactly the style I had pictured.. But I really like the size and now that it's here I think it works perfectly.... I will be adding some matching glass door cupboards for dishes and glasses since cubboard space is valuable and scarce in this apartment :)

We like dragonflies. Not sure why but they have been a reoccurring theme in some of our most favorite items, when we saw these we had to splurge. This picture does them no justice. They are the most sparkly happy little vases and they are mine!

Some ambiance ;) and feel good apple cinnamon smell. We are in the land of a thousand different smells and well, I'll just say 24 hour smell nice candles are a necessity. I'm not saying our apartment stinks, quite the contrary, our apartment smells like home!

These little Ikea baskets are HUGE and they fit a LOT of stuff. They look awesome too! 

Dora is arabic is awesome!
This gives you a better idea of the whole entertainment center. We wanted to get lighting for the shelves but aren't sure what will be on the other two shelves so decided to wait.

Pillows and a green throw for our couch. Still not sure if this couch is staying in this room or going into the kid and guest room. But I love turquoise and matching just isn't my personality. 

I was washing the duvet so this is it all wet and wrinkly but it gives the idea. Turquoise again. My feel good color. We have a comforter set (Thank you Samah)... but we need two anyways right?!? 

We still need to buy basically all the kitchen stuff (blender, dishes, more pots and pans, knives ect). I did buy an electric tea pot.

It's sort of ridiculous how much I love this little thing. I find reasons to boil water in it.

I was tired of plastic cutlery so we picked up a set of silverware...

Since I have two drawers this is the way they dry... and are stored. Why Not?!

That's it... I was realizing the other day that Life feels really normal here.  There is laundry to do, forts to build and hair to braid...

My girl is growing up.

And life is still moving forward.

Till next time :)

Monday, October 8, 2012

So Let's Talk About Dubai...

I am here.

I friggin LOVE this place.. Pardon my french.

We live in Jemeirah Lake Towers. Which in my opinion is THE place to live if you are going to live in the city. (Caveat: There is a lot of the city I haven't seen.) I really like our area.

Basically it is a huge circle of almost 100 towers that are broken into clusters of three big buildings. Each cluster has its own little community with almost everything you need and if it doesn't? It's not far. 

This is the only picture I can find of our building. The Mayor did an amazing job of thinking of everything for not just himself but us as well. 

There is a covered playground, a pool, gym, yoga room, great balcony with amazing view, grocery close, and a train station. 

I really didn't want two cars, Firas needs one for work as he may need to get from one location to another quickly.  There is a grocery store, internet cafe, hair salon, nail salon, gift shop, and several restaurants that all deliver within walking distance. If I need something else, the train is close and VERY connected. A trip is about 4 dirhams which is the same as riding a bus in rush hour ($2).

Traffic in Dubai is insane. But we live in the second cluster cluster so it is a quick way out to the Hiway and we miss traffic to and from work. Plus there is always the Dubai Metro :)

I dont feel like I am outside the US. 

Honestly. Everything that I can get in the US, I can get here.. For the most part. 

The only thing that I have noticed I may have to go without is certain food items. Half and Half for one.  

Food and seasons. LOL

So far I am loving the weather. It is hot during the day in the sun but you dont really feel the heat. I mean, even the bus stops are air conditioned!?

And the Free Beach! I'll take pictures next time we go. OMG! A short Taxi ride (15-20 Dirhams = 4-5 USD) totally amazing! AMAZING!

I didn't believe one lady when she told me that I wouldn't need weather appropriate clothing in D\\United Arab Emerites because of the air conditioning... But she was right.

You can wear whatever you want but if you are dressed skimpy, you will FREEZE and you will look like a hooker at the mall. Everyone, for the most part, dresses more modestly. I have not seen a single pair of the little shorts that EVERy teenager girl wears in the US. Not ONE! I love it! 

I dont like wearing shorts here, I prefer capris/jeans and always bring a shawl/scarf/sweater otherwise I freeze at the mall or grocery store. 

Ok. That is all for now. But I have a lot more to cover. 

We are happy, healthy and we have internet :) 

HAHA.. This was one of the first pics we took in Dubai out on the town... This was the day I learned my lesson about shorts and t-shirts :)  This is at Burj Khalife The tallest building.. for now!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

First Day October 2012

If you havent seen the pics of our new apartment check them out here!

Thanks for visiting :)

Interested in participating in First Day Posts link up here.