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Monday Listicle: 2011 First Things

We’re in New York for the holidays and the past week has been a blur of visiting, appointments, and last-minute shopping.  I’m exhausted, in part because I’ve been moving at a New Yorker’s pace for the first time in five months and I’m a little out of practice.  My days have been occasionally triple-booked, like the day I had coffee with Squashedmom, did some errands, met another friend for lunch, went to a doctor’s appointment, met a third friend for a glass of wine, and then met up with my wonderful family, all of whom have converged on New York in December so they could visit with us.

I’d sort of forgotten it was Monday, and then I saw Stasha’s great list about “first things” in 2011–the topic came from Bridget at Twinisms. Stasha’s  list is short so you can read it and get back to the cookies/football/champagne/snow-ball fight.

This year has been full of firsts, including our first Christmas at my sister’s new house in New Jersey, where champagne has been flowing with great abundance. It seems to me that if we could get most of the warring factions in the world on a steady IV drip of Moet or Perrier-Jouet, we might solve a number of the world’s problems.  Just a thought.

Significant firsts of 2011, in no particular order:

1. My sister’s second baby–another daughter–was born in April. She is the second baby but I couldn’t be at the hospital for the first baby’s birth, so  this is a first. Now, in December, that tiny morsel is all thighs and cheeks and big round eyes. Delicious:

2. I rode an elephant.

3. We hired a cleaning lady, which is a bit like suddenly having a fairy godmother.

4. Liam started playing the euphonium in his sixth-grade band. Some children play the flute, or the clarinet. In extreme cases, maybe the drums. My son chose the mini-tuba, which is about as big as his torso.

5. I started stand-up paddle-boarding.  An hour paddling around on the flat waters of the Gulf in the early morning makes everything seem okay.  Santa brought me an underwater camera, so now I can take pictures while I paddle around.  I may start saving my dirham for my own board.

6. The fluffy July trees of Hyde Park got me so inspired I got myself some new kicks and started running. I’m a long, long long way from even running even a mile without stopping, but I still get an endorphin rush that (temporarily) squashes my desire to eat cookies.

7. Finally got through all eighty gazillion pages of Book Five of the Game of Thrones series only to discover that it’s not over. George R. Martin is writing another freaking book that I will probably have to read just to find out what the hell happens.

8. Caleb became a voracious reader. Not sure if that’s a “first,” exactly, but it’s pretty significant.

9 & 10.  Started linking this blog to other sites, particularly (duh) Stasha’s listicles and freefringes lovelinks.  (Hey! I won editor’s choice at lovelinks last week, too. What a nice holiday gift, don’t you think? Winning is like a little black dress: always appropriate and goes with everything).  Reading the writers on these blog lists helped me weather those first weeks in Abu Dhabi; I’m grateful to both Stasha and Erica M for creating these online communities.

Read full story · Comments { 6 } on December 26, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, Children, Monday Listicle

four months

no, I’m not pregnant. it’s just that in the beginning of the fourth month, if you are pregnant, you can kind of let your breath out. the worry of the first trimester is over and now (usually inshallah and knock on wood), you can just settle into the “new normal” of losing your waistline and growing your appetite.  It’s our fourth-month anniversary of moving to Abu Dhabi and I’m feeling myself let my breath out…but this time, part of why I can do that has to do with these boys–not babies any more–who have helped ease my own transition. This letter is for them.

My dear boys,

Today we have lived in Abu Dhabi for four months.  In that span of time, we’ve had to evacuate our building in the middle of the night (down 37 flights of stairs, on September 11th, no less!); we’ve traveled in India, explored the oasis city of Al Ain, kayaked in a mangrove swamp during a lunar eclipse, and one of us (lucky dog sixth grader) spent a week in Ephesus.

These adventures are nothing, however,  compared to the everyday adventure of establishing our new lives in Abu Dhabi.  The little things were, in some ways, the most difficult: we couldn’t find the right sheets for your beds, or the right pillows (note to self: when repatriating family, bring your own linens, even if you’re moving into a furnished apartment).  Our great quest for Toys R Us was a bust: no up-to-date legos, no Nerf basketball.  On the other hand, the Toys R Us is linked to a Tru-Value hardware store, so we didn’t find Nerf but I found all-important bathroom hooks and a new spatula.  We sorted out grocery stores, bookstores, and spent more hours than I’m sure you care to remember wandering the aisles of Ikea.

In four short months, the two of you started a new school, made new friends, joined new soccer teams, learned to love butter chicken from Moti Mahal Deluxe and any form of Lebanese chicken shish tawook.  You found the humor in our endless quest to find decent pizza, and you’ve found the joy in walking to the naan bakery for fresh bread.

You settled in. You figured it out. And then a few weeks ago, we asked you to change again and start a new school in January. You grumbled, you griped, there were tears.  Maybe even a few slammed doors.  But the other morning, when I dropped you off for your “come meet your new teacher day,” off you went, smiling, heads held high, arms around each others shoulders.

The two of you have spent more time together in the last four months than you have in years.  There aren’t as many friends clamoring for attention, or as many activities—we move more slowly here than we did in New York.  Together the two of you could fuel a city with your creative energies: building lego ships and towers more elaborate than any store-bought set; writing and illustrating stories, creating computer games, building sand castles that stretch half the length of the beach.  And okay, sometimes you use that creative energy to annoy the living crap out of each other, which is probably to be expected, right?  But do you really, really have to argue debate—in ever louder voices—about the possibility of a mouse surviving a sandstorm?

Bicker McBickersons notwithstanding, the two of you have astonished and impressed me over the last four months. Your curiosity, (relative) good humor, and resilience have helped me to survive this transition.  Even when you’re making me angry—as when one of you screamed “shit head” the other night—I’m still impressed: you yelled it in Arabic.

I hope you both feel as proud of yourselves as I feel of you.

Love, Mommy

ps: say “shit head” again, in any language, and you’re toast.

it’s lovelinks time! i’m linking up and you should too! click this nifty button and bring your blog over to the linkup! Or don’t bring your blog, just come read some funny smart writing…then come back on Thursday and vote for your three favorites. It’s a lot easier than holiday shopping, I guarantee!

Read full story · Comments { 14 } on December 13, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, Children, expat, family, Kids, UAE