Saturday, October 31, 2015

{Happy Halloween, 2015!}

Happy Halloween from the Galloway family!

We spent our day around the house, getting things done, carving our pumpkins, and had a special lunch time where the girls got to watch Room on the Broom on Netflix (thanks, Alison, for reminding me it was there!)

We got a chance to go trick or treating with some friends of ours today, which meant for fast costume preparation and last minute borrowing of items. We hadn't really planned on doing anything because it isn't celebrated much here, but friends of ours, who live in a large expat based compound, invited us to come around their neighborhood.

We went (obviously,) as the characters from Frozen. Grace as Elsa, Sophia as Anna, Luke as Olaf, Ian as Kristoff, and Brittney as Sven.

This is Luke's first halloween!

 We had a great little group of friends to walk around with. I love seeing our girls with their friends! They interact so sweetly. Graham, Grace's little astronaut friend, led her around all nigh with his hand on her back. And L, the little cowgirl, would check to see if everyone got a piece of candy!

There were TONS of kids out and many of the houses quickly ran out of candy. The girls loved it though, at least for the first 20 minutes. Sophia started getting wary of all of the scary costumes and decor (there were a surprising amount of scary and gory costumes on even young kids! I did NOT like that.)


We ended the night with pizza and playtime at our friends' house. Such a fun evening!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

For The Love of Honking

We've lived out of the USA for five and a half years now and had our fifth "Sandiversary," just two months ago. Living cross culturally means that there is almost a constant barrage of small (or large!) differences than what you think or know as normal.

Eventually though, something that once seemed odd or out of place becomes an accepted norm. And that's when the (funny) problems start.

I don't even notice a difference when I am surrounded by a sea of women in black Abayas or men in crisp white Kandoras.

American accents catch me off guard because we are around so many different accents on a normal basis.

The kids refer to many different things in a backslash manner: "I need a band aid/plaster, Momma!" "I have to use the potty/toilet/go wee!" "Are we going to fetch/pick up Maya?"

I only flinch a little when driving by the "forest," of little four foot scrawny trees on the edge of the highway that you can see the sand dunes on the other side of. Though I die a little on the inside when Grace croons about how GIANT the trees are and how Abu Dhabi has "SO MANY TREES!!" (they aren't and we really don't have that many. At. All.)

It does not even PHASE me to see Ferrari, Bentley, or Rolls Royce cars on the roads or in the parking garage. Mercedes and BMW? Psh. Common place.

And honking? A totally normal part of our driving experience.

Growing up in America, honking was reserved for people with anger management issues. You only laid on a horn to let someone know you were very upset and wished you could do something about it. If someone honked at you, you would probably cry in embarrassment or yell back at them in anger.

Here? The horn is more of an alert to let someone know something is amiss. All day, every day.

Pedestrians crossing the highway in front of you?
Lay on your horn.

Land Cruiser passing you on the right hand side (on the shoulder, no less?)
Lay on your horn.

Maseratti handle the circle (roundabout) incorrectly? Lay on your horn to remind him that he is DOING IT WRONG!

Nissan Patrol cruising down the highway straddling two lanes? Lay on your horn to remind him he is an idiot! And rude! And inconsiderate! (Seriously. This is my biggest pet peeve. I see it every single day. I'm not sure if it is because they are rude or they want a wide berth to keep their expensive car from getting hit.)

But the awesome part of the horn here is that it is pretty detached from an emotional reaction. You honk and move on with your life.

The girls are so used to me honking that Grace has taken to asking "What was that driver doing naughty? He should learn how to drive the right way!"

Often I don't even realize I have honked until Grace asks that and then I have to think about it.

We have amazing road systems here, which I am very thankful for. And fairly safe drivers, too. Sure there are some speed demons. Sure there are some law breakers. But, for the most part everyone is kept to a pretty high standard and without left hand turns (you have to go down to a light or circle, U-turn, then can turn right into something,) it takes one of the biggest dangers out of play.

Plus, I can hide behind my deeply tinted windows and still respect the law of the land:

"I'm a guest in this country, I'm a guest in this country, I'm a guest in this country."

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Beach Vacation 2015- Arabian Peninsula Style

It is no secret that we are beach lovers. I grew up in Central Florida and spent many summer days soaking in (probably too much,) sun. My teen years were driving back and forth to my favorite beach and some of my favorite college memories were days when I would finish class early and head to the coast for an hour or two of studying on the sand.

The beach in the Middle East is a different beast all of its own. Sometimes it seems very Western (people swimming, women in bikinis, kids playing with their families,) and other times it is very very NOT Western- but Middle Eastern! Women sitting in beach chairs wearing their abayas and shaylas while their nanny chases the kids into the tide. There has to be a strange balance between respecting the local culture and also relaxing in resort settings and letting your proverbial and literal hair down.

For these reasons, I wasn't too sure what to expect during our beach vacation but it turned out to be a great long weekend up in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE.

We went with some good friends of our and their two teenage kids. We spent most of the time pool hopping and occassionally running down to the beautiful beach but it was close to 120 degrees that weekend and so we had to take frequent water breaks and keep Luke inside whenever possible.

 Our friends rented a paddle board so we all got to take a turn on it- reminded me of my "surfing" days in college but a little more tippable! I've seen people do paddleboard yoga and that just seems crazy to me! The girls both took a turn sitting on the board when we were at the shore and Sophia even rode out 10 feet or so from the sand but since we didn't have a life jacket for her we came straight back.

 Our friends' daughter was about to start her senior year and I got to snap some Senior Pictures. They aren't professional quality but it was a good practice run for me before we retry over Christmas break when it isn't a million degrees outside.

We ended the weekend with dinner at a mall- they just opened a Dairy Queen there! Such a fun treat! Dairy Queen was where we always stopped on our way home from the beach to get ice cream. It was neat to share that memory with the girls and reminisce with Ian.

Monday, October 12, 2015

{Luke} Six Months

Our sweet boy turned six months old on August 25th! It's hard to believe that those sweet quiet newborn days are long gone. Yes, indeed, quiet is definitely out. Luke is a screecher and is more of a yeller than a crier.

I'm a month behind on this update, so, honestly, I don't remember many of the details. It was the last month of summer (August,) and we were mainly inside the house or other people's houses for playdates and Luke was happily along for the ride.

We had a mini vacation up north in Ras Al Khaimah at the beach and Luke got to experience the beach on a blistering 120 degree day. He took naps on his Uncle Darrin's shoulder in the pool and got passed around to the wait staff in the restaurants. I also gave him a first taste of food accidentally, when he grabbed a french fry out of my hand and then proceeded to choke on a chunk. Good times.

He weighed 15 pounds even at his six month check up and he lost the little bit of chunk he had. He is long and lean!

He circles around from sleeping through the night and NOT every two weeks or so. I'm not sure what's causing it but definitely any sort of routine change throws him off.

Grace plays peek a boo with him and he loves seeing her face!

We love our little buddy and are so thankful for him!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Sophia's Third Birthday- Ice Cream Party Edition

As Sophia's birthday approached I started asking her what kind of party she wanted. She'd mirror back whatever answer Grace had most recently mention (rainbow, Frozen, Tinkerbell,) or another character (Daniel Tiger,) and I would keep steering her away. I've done two character parties and they are just so difficult to pull off here with no craft stores and limited party and color options.

So when she came up with a theme of her own I actually paused for a minute, until I thought it through....


Yep. My sweet little (then) two year old daughter had asked for a FIRE birthday party.

Not a firefighter party.

Not a fireworks party.

Not even a campfire and s'mores type of party.

No. Girlfriend requested a fire party, with "lots of fire everywhere!!"

And, seeing as I didn't want "pyromaniac," to be settled on her permanent record all because of a birthday party theme I looked for an escape route.

Cue the backpeddling and trying to convince her that a Rainbow-Daniel Tiger- Tinkerbell combo party was a better idea than FIRE.

But, as you all know, two year olds aren't the most logical of the human species. She was not having it. All she wanted was fire.

I even went onto Pinterest to prove that a fire theme could not be easily pulled of, but, as luck would have it, there are many a flame top cake options out there.

So instead I chose a theme all by myself and proved it to her via the world wide web. Ice Cream. Just about the exact opposite of fire (well, it would be ICE, right? and Ice would be too close to Frozen, so I went with cute, whimsical ice cream.)

I thank all of the bloggers out there now who have ice cream parties pinned on Pinterest because their beautiful creations saved my hiney.

Sophia was hooked. Ice Cream party it was.

I didn't quite have it all together (as in, I never made an invitation, just sent out some text messages,) but we had a cute ice cream party for Sophia today that was laid back, simple, and so exciting for her!

Party Planning and executing is not my forte, like, at all. But as simple as this one was, and budget friendly, I'm happy with the results.

We had two garlands of ice cream cones that I had printed, cut up, and strung, along with some Sofia the First baloons because I could not find any plain colored balloons. #expatproblems

On the dining room table we had all of the ice cream fixings, including cupcake liners filled with crushed Oreos, M&M's, gummy candies, and waffle cone pieces. We also had sprinkles, caramel and chocolate topping, and maraschino cherries (of course.)

We had a centerpiece of super cute ice cream cones topped with cotton candy. They were suppossed to be our party favors and I made them ahead of time and sealed them in baggies but the few days made the cotton candy shrink and compress into hard scoops, so I just made it decor.

We had a few little snacks, juice boxes, and water, but since it was at snack time I was fairly confident the ice cream cone cupcakes and ice cream would be enough before people left to find their own dinner.

The kids had two activities: one was a craft where they could color and glue down circles (ice cream scoops,) onto a paper plate, then glue down colored paper bits (sprinkles.) The other activity was Pin the Ice Cream Scoop on the cone! It was fun and enough for the kiddos, besides the legos and Disney people we had set up to play with. Any more would have been too much with that crowd (14 kids! plus many of their parents.)

We almost didn't open up presents, but in the end we did. It's pretty split. Obviously our American culture thinks it is very normal to open the presents at the party, but European cultures think it's extremely rude. And seeing as we had Americans, Peruvian, British, Swedish, and Emirati cultures being represented, I didn't know what to do. But Sophia (and all of the kids,) kept asking to open presents so I caved. 

Sophia handed out Marshmallow Sticks as party favors (you're welcome, parents, for sugaring up your children and then sending them home.)

 Sophia was pretty afraid of the candle smoke (oh the irony,) after her birthday candle incident last week, but she humored me and let me light the candle when we sang to her, but insisted I blow out the candle and keep the scary smoke away from her! Poor Soey!

 Happy birthday, sweet girl! It was fun to celebrate you!