December 2006 Archives


My New Year's Resolution is to figure out how to make my video work on Firefox. Sorry I haven't gotten to solving that problem yet. I'll also try to post more video, I know I've been awful about it the past three months!

You Can't Catch Me, I'm Anna Martin!

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Anna loves to read books and although we brought as many as we could carry in our suitcases, we are really missing a lot of our books that are in the shipments. Today we made it to the bookstore (can't wait to go back again on my own!) and I bought several books for Anna. She seemed to like them all pretty well but really latched on to the Gingerbread Man book. I can't tell you how many times Craig & I read it in the hour we had it at home before bedtime, but, when I put Anna to bed tonight she was still shouting the Gingerbread's line.

As you see in the video, Anna was running around the table yelling "Run, run, as fast as you can, you can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man" (or "I'm a cookie" or "I'm Anna Martin" or "I'm mommy")! She must have done this for 5-10 minutes and was completely worn out from it. It's too bad I won't have my kitchen supplies to make gingerbread men (women, boys, and girls, too!) until we get the sea shipment...

Little Things: Anna 21 Months

I hope I can remember all of the little things this month, I am sure I'll have to come back and add more to this post as I think of them.

Anna has been "singing" more. She's actually just saying a lot of lines from songs but I'm counting it as singing since I've never spoken words to songs, just sung them. She started with a version of Hickory Dickory Dock that we have on a CD (it is set to a tune) and has built up to creating her own lines for The Hokey Pokey. As you can see in the above video she learned That's Amore last night when we saw the moon on our way to watch Craig work out in the gym. She'll sing lines from songs while they're playing in the car and randomly quote them while we're out as well. We've also started (finally) listening to more music in the house now that Craig got a cute little speaker we can plug an iPod into (we didn't have a great set-up back in Texas so we didn't listen to music in the house much, just in the car).

Her speech is getting clearer and clearer all of the time. She is always talking and speaks in sentences very well. Sometimes we think we need to stop and explain the concept of run-on sentences but she'll get it.

She has started to respond (sometimes) to strangers who ask her questions (like waiters or store clerks) if they ask the right question. She says "please" consistently and we're working on "thank you."

Overall, I'd say that she has adapted very well to our new life in Qatar although I know we're both ready to get out and make some more friends. I'm hoping to sign us up for a music class this winter and we'll keep checking out playgroups until we find the right fit for us.

She is kind of at a stand-still with potty training (we haven't really been making an issue of it; I'm waiting for our air shipment with potty books, stool, second potty, and training underwear—and real underwear—to arrive). We've switched to pull-ups full-time so she can practice the pulling up and pulling down aspect of the process although she hasn't gotten that quite yet (pulling down is more intriguing than up). Another reason for the switch to pull-ups is that she will not lay down for a diaper change so we must do it standing and I am completely useless trying to put a diaper on standing.

The last thing I can think of has happened over the past couple of days. I am not a particularly "girly" girl but Anna & I have been doing something that appears to be pretty girly. I treated myself to Santa brought me some Body Butter from the Body Shop this year and somehow, Anna & I have started sitting in her bus and putting body butter on our legs (she usually says her knees are itchy and asks for body butter) and tummys and backs, etc. Anna gets super giggly when we do this and it must be done in the tent where it adds that extra girlie-ness element to it.

Al Khor

On the road home.

Anna gets out the broom and sweeps right behind me each time I vacuum. Her toddler-sized broom is in the air shipment but her vacuum is in the sea shipment...

We took a drive out to Al Khor today but there was a ton of road work getting to and around the Corniche as well as being particularly windy and cold today so we didn't stay very long.

Another reason we didn't stay long is that a large group of Indian (?) men (maybe 15 people?) were hanging around near us and obviously pretending to take pictures of each other trying to get one of Anna. It was a bit creepy since there were so many of them. One did start to ask Craig if he could take Anna's picture but Craig said "no" before the guy could even get the question out. This happened the day that Anna & I went to the (Doha) Corniche together, too. One man out of a big group came up and asked if he could take Anna's picture. I said no and then I told Anna it was time to go. I honestly don't think that they mean any harm but it's still creepy nonetheless. I guess this is a time when the "ladies-only" days at the zoo and other places are feeling much more attractive!

Eid Begins

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Each day at prayer time we can hear the prayers being broadcast from the mosque near us (I am under the assumption that this can be heard no matter where in the city you live). The first prayer time has been around 4:50 AM (specific times are published in the paper each day) and then another at around 6 AM. When I wasn't sleeping through the night yet, I was always awake for the 4:50 AM one and would go upstairs because it was almost time to get up at that point and knew I had to try to sleep a little. The broadcast prayers only last a couple of minutes (less than five, I'm sure).

This morning was the start of Eid so the 6ish prayers lasted what seemed to be about 30-45 minutes (I didn't actually look at the clock when they started). We all ended up waking up early because it was so long and seemed louder (maybe because there was less road traffic this morning?). Anna didn't wake up (start talking) until about 7:15 but that's a good 45 minutes earlier than usual for her!

I wanted to go check out the book store today but a lot places are closed in the mornings for the next few days for the holiday. So we ended up going to Carrefour (at the Villagio) and got a few groceries and a cordless phone with answering machine. We got some pretty good groceries there so I am going to do my next weekly shopping trip at that Carrefour instead of Mega Mart to see if I can spend less and see if we are happy with the selection there (there will be less American products, of course, but there's a really good looking cheese section—Carrefour is a French hypermarket).

Also, I wanted to note that there is a really great blog about Qatar called Qatar Visitor (link on the right now) that has a lot of interesting articles about life here in Doha. There was a good post about Eid today. We saw just one pickup truck with two goats in the back today but we didn't realize the significance until I read the post on that blog.

Baby Name Poll #3


This poll is simple: which name do you prefer? Feel free to leave comments!

Dahal Al Hamam Family Park

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Anna & I went to a pretty nice park right by our house today (no round-abouts needed to get there or back—yipee!). We didn't stay as long as we would have liked because it was pretty cool and windy outside. Also, Anna wasn't wearing socks and kept getting sand in her shoes and she really didn't like that. She did have fun walking up the stairs and going down the slides, doing chin-ups, and the zip line. I liked this park a lot more than Al Bidda so it's a double bonus that it's so close to our villa.

Otherwise I think I've hit the "funk" stage of our move. I am really just ready for at least our air shipment to get here and to know where and when we're moving into our permanent place. I want to feel a bit more "settled," I guess. Hopefully it won't take too long for this stage to pass, I'm kind of worthless right now! The latest on our air shipment is that we're supposed to call back on Wednesday to find out what's happening. That helps a lot.

Little Things Qatar Edition: Week 3

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Here are some little things that I keep forgetting to write about or don't fit into a post of their own but want to remember about our first three weeks in Qatar.

  • Carseats: When we arrived to Doha the driver taking us to our villa was going to throw the carseat in the back with the luggage rather than hand it to one of us to install in the car. It was a pretty strange thing for me to have the driver install the carseat when Anna & I went to the security and orientation meeting. I think the driver and Qatari from Craig's company thought it was strange we insisted on bringing our carseat to go to the medical commission (I kept over-hearing them say things in Arabic with "American" thrown in now and again while Anna & I waited for Craig to come back from our car with the seat to install in the driver's van).

    We often see kids and babies sitting on the lap of the front-seat passenger or standing in the middle or back rows of cars. We saw this in Korea, too. I am just floored everytime though. I really don't get it.

  • When you park your car at the mall, people will come up to you and ask if you want your car washed while you shop. It is 10QR (about $3). We went for it a couple of days ago and the car looks pretty good!

  • You cannot bring outside bags into a store, you must check them with the security guard or the service desk at the entrance.

  • I feel like a pretty conservative dresser at home but here I feel like I'm walking around half-naked! I never realized how many v-necks I have (I think most of the maternity shirts I brought are v-necks). I sure hope I have more crew-necks in the sea shipment! With the local ladies completely covered, it makes you quite a bit more aware of your own clothing.

  • I posted about frozen pizza from Iceland the other day; my chicken is from Saudi Arabia, I can get Saudi eggs or Dutch eggs, Saudi beef or Australian beef, and my paper towels are from Saudi Arabia. Many of the things I'm buying are from the US but sometimes I don't have that choice so I haven't noticed everything yet, but I think most things are Saudi products. The bottled water I bought this week is from Qatar (it is recommended to buy bottled or get a water service—I think we'll end up getting a service rather than continuing to buy the bottles each week).

  • As promised, I took notes when we filled up my Accord with gas on Sunday night:
    (I'll provide all original numbers so you can feel free to check my math if you like.)
    51.3 liters
    41 Qatari Riyals
    436.3 km driven

    I come up with:
    13.55 gallons
    $11.26 USD
    271 miles

    So, 83 cents (USD) per gallon. ... maybe I can afford that H3!

21 Weeks 5 Days Pregnant

I've already posted most of the stuff going on this week with Baby for the most part, but wanted to get my "official" weekly post in anyway. She has been giving me some pretty good kicks lately which is a lot of fun especially now that they can also be felt from the outside. Surely it will feel like only a couple of weeks have passed when I complain that they're getting too strong and painful!

I have been experiencing more lower back and sciatic nerve pain partly because I am in desperate need of my body pillow (air shipment) and partly because Anna has been clingy the past few days and wanting to be carried up and down the stairs instead of walking up and down like she had been doing so well last week (even doing portions on her own holding only the railing and not my hand).

Right now I am feeling pretty certain that Baby's name choices are down to Elena or Ella with Carolyn as middle name and if Anna would just say one of those names I'd let her decide which it is! Anna will not say any baby names but she will say any other random word we throw at her and she can say "hip-potomus" so I know she could say Elena or Ella if she tried, I think something deep inside her knows Baby is going to take away a lot of mommy & daddy's time when she first arrives; although I know these girls will have a lot of fun playing together when Baby gets old enough to keep up!

I've also been getting a lot of headaches lately and I'm not sure why. At first I thought it was lack of sleep and not staying properly hydrated. I feel like I'm on track with sleep & hydration now though so I'm just not sure what the deal is. I haven't had to venture down the road of actually taking a Tylenol or anything, but have come close. Hopefully they'll stop (I had frequent headaches during the beginning of this pregnancy, too).

I have to say that I am getting super excited for May to come and to meet our little girl though. I am planning to get a 4D ultrasound done here and am going to go online to try to figure out what the best timing is for that. I will try to get Craig to take a new profile picture of me soon.

Souq Waqif

There is a lot of reconstruction going on around the Souq Waqif.

Some of the falcons at the falcon shop; there were more inside. I think this was Anna's favorite stop.

The fabric souqs and the spice souqs were probably most interesting to me... maybe someday I'll get that sewing machine to be my friend.

View of the KDF Islamic Centre from the Souk—I always think this building looks cool whenever I drive by

We decided to head out to Souq Waqif today, the "old souq." I have to say that the hassle of parking led to a bit of disappointment for me. The area was cool, but nothing jumped out at me as particularly exciting. I'm sure some of this had to do with Anna being a little clingier than usual which always makes an outing less fun. Anna did want to ride a donkey (so she says, I'd be interested to see what she did if we actually put her on!) but we didn't have any small bills with us to let her. Next time we'll see if she still wants to do it.

I did want to take a lot more pictures, but this was the first time I've taken my "real" camera out in Doha and I know that the locals are particularly sensitive about being photographed so I kept it by my side for the most part. Perhaps I'll get more comfortable with it the longer we are here. I'm interested to see what the other souks are like and I suppose we'll hit them all at some point during our stay.

Doha Zoo

We all got in the car to go to the zoo this morning but when we got there, it was Ladies Day only (our book said it was Ladies Day in the afternoon, not morning). So, Anna & I went in for an hour and fifteen minutes while Craig went to Carrefour and got a paper and some adapters.

The zoo was totally empty so it was really nice! It was only 5 Riyals to get in and we got to see a lot of animals. There are a ton of giraffes, one elephant, tons of oryx and other deer/antelope-type animals, a lot of ostriches, and what seemed like a gazillion monkeys. I thought the exhibits with a lot of animals seemed really cool because the one in Houston just seemed to have a few of each animal (although more variety). There was one male lion and I think that that is the closest I have ever been to one (no zoom on the camera in the above photo). We also got to see the tigers, cheetahs, and monkeys up close. Anna loved it and I had a good time. She also really liked watching the flamingos.

We didn't go over to the rides area which is just as well because, from the parking lot, it didn't look like anything was running. I'm sure we'll make it over there at some point though.

We were stopped twice by pre-teen girls asking what Anna's name was and then one of the girls (both times) bent over and kissed Anna on the forehead. Anna didn't like this one bit (neither did I!) but I'm not exactly sure how to prevent this. I had better figure it out before Baby comes because I'm sure she'll be an even bigger target.

Christmas Dinner

We went to Christmas dinner at one of Craig's co-workers tonight. They are British and Christmas dinner is a big deal. There was shrimp & salmon for an appetizer (I gave Anna mine) and then turkey, potatoes, parsnips, brussel sprouts, broccoli, stuffing, gravy, & cranberry sauce for dinner. There was a trifle and a chocolate cake for dessert. We were all stuffed after dinner and I am not sure I have felt Anna's belly so hard before!

Anna really did a great job at this adults-only dinner party. It probably helped that they had plenty of Christmas decorations and a dog. We did have to leave before coffee because it was already 7:30 (her bed time) and we thought we had better go before Anna left a negative impression on her hosts.

When we got home, Anna was still pretty wired from the trifle and cake so she stayed up for quite a bit longer so we could do a video chat with Grandma, Grandpa, Rachel, Mat, Jacob, & Sam. Anna seemed to really like talking to Grandma and I think she may have finally "got it" toward the end of the conversation. (We did video chat with Nana & Papa last night where Anna demonstrated her play-doh-container-stacking-skills. She liked it when Nana & Papa cheered when she knocked the stack over.) Hopefully we'll be able to do the video chats regularly so that she will know everyone when we come back to the US to visit and when they come out to visit us here.

Baby Girl is really kicking tonight—I guess she liked the Christmas dinner as well! Craig was definitely able to feel her kicking tonight where it was a bit less obvious to him last week. Once they're more consistently strong, hopefully Anna can get in on the action, too (although Baby is most active typically when Anna's finally gone to bed and I can relax!).

We got another batch of Christmas cards in the mail today, it's nice to feel loved when we're far away!

Christmas Day

Anna really seemed to enjoy her Christmas morning! She was excited to see what Santa left her and then liked opening each new present. She'd play with each toy for a few minutes before opening the next gift. The biggest hits were the cat bag, the beads, and the bus. After she opened those, each time she opened another present she'd guess it was going to be a cat bag or beads. Sometimes she'd guess a book, too. We may have some of that on video, I'll post it if it's worth watching. We saved the school bus for last, and rightfully so since she played with that for a long time before she wanted to open another present.

Thank you to everyone for the wonderful gifts! I know there are more coming in the shipments but we picked the ones that we could fit in our suitcases.

Christmas Eve

Anna was really excited to go to church and sing Christmas songs on chairs (the church we went to is held in a school, so no pews). She wanted to wear her red sweater all day and kept asking to "get in car go to church" after her nap. She did a really good job although we definitely need to work on our "church voice" as she was yelling "we're at church!" "we'll do that again!" (after we sang a song) and other random stuff about being at church. I guess we'll see if she gets as excited about a regular service as this one (and then how she does in the church nursery!).

She seems intrigued by the empty stockings and Santa filling them up with presents, too. I am excited to see what she thinks of opening all of the presents in the morning and I can't wait to see which gift is the biggest hit of the day (and then which ones have the most staying power). It's too bad that a lot of her actual Christmas gifts are in the sea shipment although I guess it's good that they're getting spread out a bit, too. I have a feeling that some of the most exciting gifts are in the sea shipment though (the tricycle and rocking moose are the first that come to mind).

She still gets super excited every time we're out and we see a Christmas tree ("Just like at Ritz!") and the few Christmas lights we've seen around town. We've been listening to Christmas music in the house and in the car and she particularly likes Frosty the Snowman by Gene Autry and Here Comes Santa Claus by Elvis. I've had so much fun with her this season, I'll be a little sad to see it go. I guess the only consolation is that there's always next year!

Happy Holidays!

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Our Christmas card this year.


The office

The hallway from office to Anna's bedroom; our bedroom is off to left, second bedroom is on left just before Anna's room; another bathroom on the right before Anna's bedroom.

Our room. Each of the bedrooms has a large mirrored closet (with shelving and drawers) and blackout curtains. Ours has a bathroom with shower on the other side of the closet.

Anna's room (pack & play in the corner by window).

The guest room (where Gertie hangs out). Anna takes a bath in the bathroom off of this room.

View from our balcony: to the left.

View from our balcony: straight ahead (club house).

View from our balcony: to the right: pool and beyond that is the playground (covered).

Craig took Anna out for a bit this morning so I could clean the house upstairs and downstairs and finally get these pictures taken! I vacuumed the tile downstairs last week but upstairs still felt dusty/dirty so I wanted to do the whole thing at once (much easier without Anna around!). Now the floors feel much cleaner!

Al Bidda Park

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Good advice for any city!

We took Anna back to the park we went to with the playgroup. I had read that there was a train here so we went exploring. No train, but Anna really enjoyed looking at the water, so I guess it wasn't a total loss (thankfully we didn't mention the possibility of a train before we went!).

Belly Musing

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Anna randomly asked "where's your belly" (she still hasn't straightened out the "you" and "me" thing so she is still "you")? After she found hers, she wanted to know where mine had gone. She lifted up my shirt and I reminded her that her baby sister is in there but we can't see her and that sometimes we'll be able to feel her move. She got really close to my belly button, looking in, so I asked her "what do you see?" and she replied "baby sister." So cute; I realize she doesn't really get it yet, but it's fun to think of her as a big sister.

Any time we ask her to say one of our name choices, Anna won't say anything (and usually she'll repeat anything you say to her) so she's not helping on a name choice either.

After my baby name books arrive (air shipment, thank goodness!), I am really going to scour them (again!) and then hopefully we'll be able to make a decision.

Baby Name Poll #2


Another contender for Baby Girl's name right now is Elena. We are pronouncing this name a certain way, but I'm interested to hear your initial instinct on the pronunciation to get a feel if Baby Girl will be correcting people her whole life (although is it that often that people read your name before you say it to them in introduction? first day of school each year, resumes, telemarketers...).


Anna was ridiculously excited about these foam squares that we bought for what we'll use as the "play area" when her toys arrive. The front door doesn't clear them though so I think we'll end up putting two in her room or somewhere else as I'm not thrilled with the look we've achieved with six squares right now.

We went to get our fingerprinting done today (Anna did not have to get hers done since she is under 10 years old). I had heard to bring wet wipes because they do your whole hand and don't give you anything to clean the ink off. We got to the facility and it was swarming with people, presumably all to get their fingerprinting done as well. We were escorted to a building with "VIP" something-or-other on it and we were handed two numbers that were somehow before some of the people who were already waiting in the room. Anyway, we basically didn't have to wait and they had upgraded to electronic fingerprinting so no need for wet wipes. I did, however see some other people walking around with inked papers so I guess the electronic fingerprinting is only done for VIPs (whatever that means!).

After that we went to Carrefour to pick up the foam squares I saw last time but forgot to pick up. We stopped at Starbucks first though because Baby & I were hungry and I knew Anna also needed a snack. I think Anna drank more of my Frappucino vanilla blended creme than I did (no caffeine). She was pretty hilarious in doing so because after each sip she would just shiver and shiver and then go for more.

I went out during Anna's nap to check out another mall (Centrepoint) and found a really nice store (Baby Shop—they have one at City Center, but it is being remodeled and this one just felt nicer and like there was more in it) with a lot of good stuff for Baby and a pretty good selection of toys for Anna. The mall itself was not big at all so I'm not sure how often I'll actually go back, but it's good to know where some essential baby-stuff can be found.

Mail, Pizza, Etc.

Thank you to all who have sent Christmas cards our way this year! It is taking about one week for us to receive letters which seems like a pretty good turn-around. We have a few things to mail back the other way so we'll see how long that takes!

Mega Mart at the mall with the fire is open (and so is the carousel, thank goodness!) so I will probably just do all of our shopping there since it has the most American/western stuff. Plus it's just a grocery store and not a hypermarket which, I think, makes it a little less crazy to shop in. I've gotten two frozen pizzas to have on hand and they are both from Iceland. I guess Iceland is known for this? I don't know, but the first one Anna & I tried was good so maybe the Mega Mart stockers are on to something there.

The weather is cool and we actually had to roll out the portable electric radiators last night to keep our feet from turning into ice blocks! Today seemed a bit warmer though and Anna & I were comfortable in long sleeves at the park (but needed jackets or sweaters to go out to dinner tonight).

Craig is starting the search for cars for us. We'll see what we can find in our price range, but I'll probably get a small SUV-type that will keep me and the girls safe from the Land Cruisers (and so I can have a chance to see around the Land Cruisers when they block my line of sight into the round-abouts!). Hopefully something will turn up before our alloted rental car days are up (the company only pays for a certain number of rental days and then we're on our own).

Craig will have most of the next couple of weeks off (vacation and then Eid al-Adha). Not sure what we'll do with him all of that time but hopefully we'll do a bit of exploring around Qatar (as much as we can without 4WD, anyway).

Itsy Bitsy Toddlers

Anna & I went to one of the playgroups today (Itsy Bitsy Toddlers: ages 18-months and up). There were five or six other moms ("mums") there and we all had daughters. I think Anna was the youngest, but the next youngest was just two months oder than her; the oldest was 2.5 years. Anna had fun and got to practice walking up and down stairs a lot which was great (I'm too chicken to let her do this on her own at home yet (all the tile terrifies me) but we're working on it since she can actually reach the railing at our villa and she couldn't in Texas).

They seemed like a nice bunch (all from Australia, New Zealand, or England—I must learn to say, "Aussies, Kiwis, and Brits") but it was hard talking to them because we met at a park and I had to keep an eye on Anna a bit because at first one of the local kids was trying to get Anna to "play" with her and then I just wanted to make sure Anna wasn't going to walk off one of the gaping sides of the play structure! We'll try to go again a few more times for sure.

Frosty the Snowman

We decided to let Anna watch Frosty the Snowman since she likes the book so much. She doesn't get any TV-time at all (she watches videos I take on the little camera on the computer and Jake & Sam's blog videos though) so a whole movie was pretty intense for her. She loves the bunny in the movie. I'm sure we'll be watching this every night for a while.


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One of the moms we met at Dairy Queen on Sunday was nice enough to invite us over to get out of the house and play with some new toys today. Darcie & Talulah (27-month-old twins) had a lot of fun toys to check out (strings of beads were the biggest hit with Anna) and they all played with play-doh together for a bit, too.

The villa they are in is in a compound that houses a lot of employees from Craig's company and although it was a bit smaller than our current villa, I liked it a bit more (although I'm pretty sure a lot of it had to do with the fact that Claire furnished the house herself rather than keeping the more formal furniture that came with it). Everything was a little less "grand" than here and there was a lot more light coming in the windows. They also have a huge yard which would be really nice. I'm sure our place will feel more like home when all of our stuff gets here (although I don't think that will help me like the furniture any more!

On our way out of the compound we stopped at Craig's company club and paid our membership dues ($50 per year and I'm not totally sure what that buys us, but seemed inexpensive enough to check it out) and checked out the clubhouse. There is a nice little library, a pool, dining room with lunch & dinner catered by the Marriott every day, kitchen and bar, and a gym. (I have failed to mention that we are the clubhouse on our compound has a pool, gym, pool tables, etc. and is just across the street from our villa. I haven't gone over to check these things out yet but we will in time.)

I need to call about the Wednesday playgroup and see if they're meeting tomorrow and get directions. If they're not meeting, Anna & I will probably go check out another mall and see what we think of the play area there.

I'm really hoping that we can get our Internet connection set up properly here because this stealing-from-the-neighbors-spotty-connection is really starting to drive me nuts!

The Ritz

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This was the expression Anna had through the whole evening (with only a pretty big smile at the start of Frosty the Snowman—although not long enough for me to capture it on film!).

Checking out the big Christmas tree.

Everyone swarmed over to check out Santa on the other side of the tree so it's kind of hard to see how many people are there; also, I brought the little camera for the video capability but am basically disgusted with the pictures. Oh well, Anna is enjoying re-living everything with the video so that makes it worth it, I suppose.

We went to the Christmas tree lighting at the Ritz tonight. There were carolers and a brass quartet (two trumpets & two french horns) singing and playing Christmas songs. Santa was there, too, but we came for the tree and the music. Anna seemed to really like it but was overwhelmed by it at the same time. When the carolers sang "Frosty the Snowman" she got really excited as this is the song she knows best. I'll post some pictures and maybe video tomorrow.

We will try to go to church on Christmas Eve for more Christmas music; I need to call around to the churches in town to find out where they are and what time their Christmas Eve services are (there are four or five Christian churches listed in Craig's company booklet of info on Doha).

20 Weeks & 2 Days Pregnant (half-way there!)

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Craig took the morning off of work so I could go to my first OB appointment without Anna (thank you, Craig!). It was really quiet there this morning and I went from desk to desk as instructed and then met with the OB right away. This first trip cost 970 Riyals (about $266 USD) so we will definitely be submitting receipts to our insurance unlike in Korea where it was so cheap it wasn't worth the hassle!

It was pricey today because I had to get blood work done (the mom at DQ yesterday had pre-warned me that they like to be very thorough, perhaps a little bit too much) so, even though I told her I had the MMR vaccine in the US as a child she wanted to check that along with a couple of other things they didn't check at home in the blood work.

Anyway, I didn't get in to see the OB I wanted because she doesn't come in until afternoon on Mondays, apparently. I saw another woman who seemed fine though I will see the original OB I had planned to see at my next appointment (January 16) just to at least meet them both.

The OB asked the same general questions as at home and seemed really surprised when I told her I had no pain medication for Anna's birth. I told her I'd like to do the same with this one and that I'd prefer to not have an episiotomy and she seemed fine with that so that's good news there. There was an ultrasound machine in the room so we took a quick look at Baby to check measurements. That was an unexpected bonus! No pictures to take home though.

Overall, the hospital looked really nice and the staff seemed friendly, helpful, and everyone spoke English. The building itself is only two years old. I got a sheet that outlines the costs for delivery. I'll have to go back to Anna's medical records now to see how much she cost (something I've wanted to figure out anyway, but all of the bills came at different times and I never sorted through them, just paid and tossed them in her file). Here are the costs for "normal delivery + normal baby care in nursery for 2 days" (costs go up with vacuum/forceps, c-section & baby care for 4 days; and also not included in the package is circumcision (we were wondering if they did that at all), hearing test, epidural, radiology, and some laboratory tests).

Double Room 6,500 Riyals [$1,785 USD]
Single Room 7,300 Riyals [$2,005 USD]
VIP Suite 8,400 Riyals [$2,307 USD]
Royal Suite 10,500 Riyals [$2,884 USD]

(Royal Suite with c-section is 20,000 Riyals [$5,494 USD])

I'm sure I'll be briefed on the differences between the Double Room, Single Room, VIP Suite, & Royal Suite. We'll see which one Craig springs for.

We also have to remember to put in the bag for the hospital Craig's and my passports and ID cards, and our wedding certificate "this is very important for the baby."

I know the prices state "normal baby care in nursery for 2 days" but I'm pretty sure I've read that they encourage keeping the baby with the mother and that they are very pro-breastfeeding (I did see a lot of posters around the offices this morning) so that is encouraging. I am really happy with the experience I had in Texas with Anna's birth so I hope that this is somewhat comparable.

Oh, and the hospital is very close to our current villa so I hope we don't end up somewhere on the opposite side of town! With my dad missing my birth because he was parking the car and with how fast Sam came out, I don't want to deliver in the car on the way to the hospital! Although, I hope I didn't just jinx myself into a really long, long labor, either!

Finally, I have been feeling Baby move a lot since we arrived in Doha and Craig even felt her one night last week. It's nice to have that daily reassurance!

Will have to add Baby's weight & length from Your Pregnancy Week by Week after the air shipment arrives. According to the scale at the doctor, I have gained 2.5 pounds since the week I got the positive pregnancy test.

Playdate at Dairy Queen

Anna wanted to go upstairs and read books this afternoon. More specifically, she wanted to lay back on a pillow and read.

I emailed with one of the moms on the expatwoman message boards and she and another mom planned to meet up this morning at Dairy Queen for a little playdate. There is a good play area there for the kids so we chatted while the kids played and snacked. Anna jumped right in, then got shy, then jumped back in.

One of the older Qatari girls playing in the area seemed to take to Anna and the girl was handing Anna balls to play with for quite some time. It was strange to me that Anna thought this girl was OK, but it was nice to know that she isn't completely afraid of new people!

I think Anna had fun and we met three moms and four kids (ages 20 months to 27 months; three girls—one named Ella—and one boy). I'm horrible at placing accents, but at least one of the moms is Australian. Hopefully we'll make it to one of the playgroups this week (one tomorrow or one Wednesday).

One of the moms just had a baby here (8 weeks ago) with the doctor I'm planning to see this week. She said that she had gone to her with and without appointments and probably waited less time without the appointment. Go at 8 AM or 1 PM right when they open for the day & after lunch to get in faster. Both of those times will be hard to swing but I can wake Anna early and try to get there as close to 8 AM as I can one day, I'm sure; Craig will come with so that will be a big help.

Baby Name Poll #1

I can't guarantee that I won't have more baby name polls so here goes the first one.

Ella Carolyn is one of our top name choices right now. Ella is for my maternal grandmother, Eldora; and Carolyn is for Craig's paternal grandmother, Carolyn. [Anna Adele is named after Craig's mom, Anita, and my mom, Adele; so I really like the idea of honoring two more wonderful women in our families.]

Feel free to offer other suggestions in the "other" field or post comments in the comments section of this post. As you can gather from my questions, I am a little concerned about the similarity of Anna & Ella together and the popularity of Ella right now.

This is by no means a declaration of our baby name choice, simply a survey of opinions to see if anyone has any insights or drawbacks to this particular name choice. We reserve the right to change our minds on any name choices until we are filling out the birth certificate.

("Other" was Corrine's comment: "LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT!" so actual result was 79% "Ella Carolyn is lovely"; 0% "I don't like Anna & Ella together"; and 21% "Ella is too popular right now")

Another Mall

It would seem that there are about one hundred malls in this town so we're checking them out one by one. Today we went down to the Villagio and the Hyatt Plaza which turned out to be pretty good. The Carrefour at the Villagio is newer so, even though they pretty much have all the same stuff as the one in City Center, it was nicer. It was also less crowded.

We also stopped at the Homes R Us there which seemed pretty nice, but we really liked checking out the Dais-O upstairs. Dais-O is a Japanese discount store (everything is $2). We could have spent a long time in there, but it was close to lunch so we bought a few things (mostly stocking stuffers for Anna) and went to lunch.

These malls are right near the zoo so maybe Anna and I will go check that out this week or next.

We got a call to let us know that our air shipment is in Doha and we should have our stuff within 8-10 days (it has to go through customs). It's nice to think we'll have that stuff soon, but will probably make me want the sea shipment even more!

It was rainy today; the hardest rain we've seen here yet. It's been drizzling a lot since we have arrived which is unusual. It's also been relatively cool--long-sleeves-weather (and there have been occasions where I wished I had another layer on top of that.

Sorry no pictures today, I forgot to put the little camera in my purse after I transferred files yesterday.

Weekend Update


The backyard from the corner of yard by kitchen; large water tank on right.

Looking back toward villa.

Along side the house (by dining room). Gate at other end leads to second car port.

Craig & Anna posing with one of many Orry's around town. Orrry is the official mascot of the 2006 Asian Games (he is an oryx).

I woke up at 1:15 or so because Anna was crying looking for her pacifier (no, I didn't go in). But, I couldn't fall back asleep. Anna woke up at 6:30 (yikes!) and I never did get any more sleep beyond the 2 hours or so. We all three lay in bed for a while though because Anna has never gotten up that early before and we just didn't know what to do with her (plus we were both exhausted).

We went to the Corniche again today since Anna liked it so much yesterday. We hoped to find a playground Craig saw last year that he said looked cool, but it was taken over by the Asian games. I saw some playgrounds yesterday but by the time we had walked to one end, it was time for us to walk back to the car and find some lunch. (I think the Corniche is 7km long? We didn't walk all of that today of course, but we did get some exercise in!)

I took a one hour nap and then went to Lulu Hypermarket to check it out and get some groceries and hopefully some essentials still on our list. Lulu was really crazy (surely partly because it was Friday afternoon) and a lot of the stuff upstairs was just clothes and everything else was kind of dusty stuff. I did get a little ride-on race car for Anna since her ride on toys are in the sea shipment. This one has a working steering wheel and it was on sale so I couldn't not get it. She loves it, of course.

The grocery store was OK, I did find several things I needed as far as bakeware, mixing bowls, etc. to help us survive until the sea shipment gets here. So far, Mega Mart has had the best selection but I was able to get some Australian beef and, best of all, Swiss Miss vanilla pudding cups (something I've not been able to find at Kroger or HEB for years now). I will try the other Mega Mart in town (the one not in the mall that had the fire) next.

I'm really glad I went alone because Anna would have gone nuts with all the waiting in lines I had to do. One upstairs to buy the car and some coloring books. One in the produce department to get my produce weighed. One to pay for the groceries. Fortunately traffic wasn't bad at all and I zipped there and back.

I'm really finding (so far) driving to be not a big deal at all. I don't know if it was built up too much or if I've been lucky so far. Yes, there are some crazy drivers but, there are crazy drivers everywhere! There are also less Land Cruisers than I was expecting—still more than you generally see at home, but I've felt perfectly safe in my Accord (it is pretty new so it has a lot of pep, something I haven't experience much in my own cars!). We stopped and filled up the car today, it was mostly empty and it cost about $10 to fill. I'll take actual liter and km and Qatari Riyal notes next time so you can get a true feel fro the price of gas here. Maybe I should get an H3 since gas is so cheap?

The Corniche

The view from Anna's room this afternoon when I woke her form her nap.

Anna & I had to go back to the medical commission today so I could get the TB skin test administered. We have to back again on Sunday to get it read. I found it easily on my own and although Anna acted really unhappy (not crying, but maybe a little scared?) being there, she was much better in the car because I made a CD of her songs to listen to. It helps that she has two full nights of sleep under her belt, too!

On our way home from the medical commission, we stopped at the Corniche to do something fun instead of all of the boring stuff I've been making her do. She really liked getting out and looking at the water (very blue and beautiful, but what she loved most was the "sparkly ones" where the sun was reflecting off of the water). She wanted to touch the water, but there is no practical way to get down to do that so I told her that once her water shoes come (air shipment) we can go to a beach and she can touch the water (you are not supposed to go barefoot in the water here). I left my little camera at home with the battery charging, but I'm sure Anna & I will head back again since she seemed to enjoy it a lot.

Anna took an awesome nap today (I took one, too, even though I slept until 4:15 this morning) and then we went out to Johnny Rockets for dinner. Anna loved it; especially the milkshake I ordered. Baby Girl liked that I actually ate some food for once (I have not been eating well the past few weeks with the move and then with the jet lag, nothing tastes good—and I just haven't stocked the house well with food yet). I have a feeling we will be going there often (even though I wasn't exactly in love with Johnny Rockets at home, this burger tasted pretty darn good tonight!).

Tomorrow is Friday so I'm hoping to sleep in a bit and then go to the grocery store alone in the afternoon. Craig thinks I should go out driving in the morning since traffic will be light, but I don't want to just go driving, I at least want to hit a few stores if I'm out. So, I might check out Lulu Hypermarket or the other Mega Mart in town if I can get out the door early enough. Friday morning store hours are funny as the stores open for 1-3 hours and then close for a few hours until afternoon so Saturday would probably actually be a better day for me to get some shopping done but we need stuff now!

Anna seemed back to her normal pleasant self today which is a relief. It's hard dealing with a jet lagged kid when you haven't gotten sleep yourself. I know she is needing to feel in control of herself and surroundings but some of things she has been doing have really been trying my nerves! For example, as soon as you get in the car she wants to "back out of spot! Back out of spot! Drive on road!" She doesn't care that I feel the need to consult my map before I start driving. Hopefully that will pass soon because it's not something I enjoy much. One funny thing she's bee doing for a couple of weeks though is when we get to a red light she says "let's make that green!" I know she gets her impatience from me and I guess I haven't done a very good job of concealing it from her.


I've put all of the photos up; you'll have to go to the December archives link on the right to see all of the ones I've added.

I'll post about today after a bit. I have to go charge the laptop batter for a bit as getting all of the photos ready took a lot of power!

19 Weeks & 4 Days Pregnant


I have been feeling Baby Girl move more since we made the move. I think I am finally not stressed out now that we are out of the house and what's done is done (packing/storage-wise). Still not very strong or consistent, but I'd say I've been feeling her every day.

I need to get info on making an appointment (or just walking in) next week. I hope that the doctor's visits are not a huge hassle and that I like this first doctor I've scoped out. I'll be sure to post about my visit when I go in.

Something I've been thinking a lot about during my sleepless nights is Baby's name. I just don't have super strong feelings about any names. I want something that is timeless, is internationally-friendly, feminine (but not frilly!), and goes with Anna & Martin! Seems like a tall order but I'm sure the name is out there. We have a small list going now, but I'd be interested in any suggestions anyone out there has for us! Maybe I'll post a poll later on when we have solidified our choices more (although your votes wouldn't really count in our final decision-making, it would just be fun to see what you think!).

I don't have my Pregnancy Week by Week with my right now (it's in the air shipment) so I can't tell you length & weight this week. I'll try to remember to come back and update it though.

Blood Tests & Sleep

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View from area to right of entryway.

From back of dining room toward family room & front door.

Into the kitchen.

Into the laundry/utility room (bathroom to right of stacking washer & dryer in back is the perfect spot for the litter box!).

From the back door in the kitchen toward the front door.

From the kitchen door; main powder room on left.
I spent Anna's "nap" cleaning downstairs so I thought I'd better take pictures. Tomorrow I'll try to get the upstairs and outside.—and I'll try to post them during her nap as well, we'll see.

She did it! Anna slept from 7:30 to 8 AM when Craig woke her up this morning. Just like at home. Unfortunately, she didn't take a nap this afternoon (not totally unusual for at home, but I would have thought she'd still be tired from this past week and not revert to no napping so soon). Doubly unfortunately, I woke up at 2 AM and couldn't fall back asleep until about 6 AM. I did not take a nap this afternoon but "accidentally" fell asleep this evening after I put Anna to bed and Craig was out getting my cell phone (so cute, I'll have to take a picture!).

We went to the Qatar medical offices where we had to do the tests for our residency permits. This is where they repeat all of the tests that we had to do back home because apparently doing them once wasn't good enough. I had to bring Anna with me to a separate ladies' side while Craig was escorted through the process on the men's side by two of the guys from his sponsoring company. He says that they ushered him to the front of each line so they breezed through.

The ladies' side wasn't busy, but since I was on my own, I was probably slower because I didn't really know what I was doing and Anna was not necessarily cooperative. One of the guys from Craig's work wrote that I am pregnant in Arabic on my form so each station I stopped at asked how far along, etc. At the station where you're supposed to get an x-ray, the lady said that since I am pregnant she would just do the TB skin test (same as they did in Texas) but that the injection wasn't available today so I have to go back tomorrow (and then probably again on Sunday to have it read). This caused a bit of an uproar with our hosts when I came back out without my stamp but there was nothing to be done. I'm just glad that I got out of the x-ray as I was worried I'd be back there by myself demanding a lead apron that they wouldn't give me or some other horrible thing.

Anna is having quite the time with everyone wanting to interact with her: she does not like strangers! She always turns to me and says "mom!" really loudly and then sometimes the strangers (waiters/people in Craig's office/people at the medical clinic) back off and other times they are (annoyingly) persistant, like they're going to win her over. Ha! She hasn't totally freaked out on anyone, but a couple of people today thought they were helping me by trying to pick her up and hold her while I was getting my blood test or whatever. They quickly put her down when she let them know she didn't like it!

Also, Anna was offered (and I accepted because I didn't want to be rude) two bags of cheese curls (one puffs and one crunchy—both generic versions) today and she loved them. Her diet hasn't been the greatest since we started packing in Texas, but this was really bad. Luckily I actually had time, ingredients, and the appropriate number of clean dishes to cook a meal tonight (chicken, mashed potatoes, and broccoli) so we'll get her the right stuff again in spite of Qatari-hospitality.

I had no problem getting from Craig's work back home this morning after we were done and I am planning to go back tomorrow without him and I feel like I can get there without too much hassle. It's actually probably a bit easier without the use of street names and just counting roundabouts and stoplights. I just tell myself, "straight, straight, left, straight" and then I'm there! No worrying about remembering the right street names. My trip tomorrow is longer but since I've done half already with Craig (and rode as a passenger for the other half), I'm not too nervous. I need to make a CD with some music Anna likes for the ride though because I haven't found a decent radio station to listen to yet and she gets antsy a few roundabouts before we get home.

Pots & Pans, Major Appliances, etc.

I feel like I should make a list of things that I wish I had brought on the plane, put in the air shipment, or could have put in the sea shipment so that next time around I have a better chance of getting it right. When we went to Korea we just had an air shipment (and no kid!) so it was a lot easier.

Our villa came with pots & pans so I sent ours sea (along with a lot of bakeware, measuring cups, all of our gadgets, Kitchen Aid, espresso machine, etc.). I wish I had really read the list of things provided in the apartment because I would have sent measuring cups and a few baking things (one pan and one sheet at least!) in the air shipment. I couldn't have prioritized all of the kitchen stuff about the Anna-stuff in the air shipment, but I could have thrown in a couple of things; like I'm not even sure that I thought to put my Joy of Cooking in the air shipment. Next time I'll know.

I'm happy with the amount of clothes I took in my luggage for myself (four maternity pants and maybe 15 maternity tops) so far but Craig wishes he had brought more or sent a few more in the air shipment. I brought all of Anna's clothes that fit her now in the suitcases (and the handful of clothes that I have in her next size) which is perfect since her clothes didn't take up that much room.

I wish I had brought more of food with us that Anna is kind of attached to. Luna bars, Earth's Best bars, Amy's Bunny Grahams, and Earth's Best crackers. I realize we'll get new stuff to replace these items, but I am running out of her standards faster than I can find new things at the store. I will probably get out to the store by myself later this week so I can really study my choices (Anna has just been too squirmy at the store; not like her usual self).

I hope I sent my office supplies in the air shipment but I have a feeling they might have gotten into the sea shipment pile.

So far, I think that's it. I know we sent a lot of toys in the air shipment and that we had a suitcase-full of them with us. That has felt like the right decision so far.

I also wanted to add that I have figured out the dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer. I even figured out how to pre-heat the oven after much trial and error—and the temperature is in fahrenheit. It was after I started pre-heating the oven, however, that I realized I had nothing that was oven-safe to bake our chicken in. Some kind of baking dish is on my list to get at the store as I don't see going 6-8 weeks without baking anything!

Oh, and the cat litter we are using here is not clumping and it is very strange: it is little white balls. So far, Gertie doesn't seem to mind and both Mega Mart and Carrefour only have the same brand. I have to get to the vet in the next couple of weeks to get Gertie's food (I just brought one small bag) so I'll have to check if they have anything better there.


Would you let these people live in your country? I was just going to post Anna's, but thought it was only fair if I made fun of all of our pictures.

I got my rental car today! Now we're not trapped on the compound (we could have hired a car to take us around, but I hate dealing with that car seat all of the time). Anna & I went to Carrefour to get some groceries (not as good of a selection as Mega Mart) and traffic was easy to navigate. Of course, this is one of two places I've been to with Craig before so I had a good idea of where I was going. Venturing out on my own a little more will be a bit nerve-wracking. There are a couple of playgroups I want to check out and they're on the other side of town: where I've never been before!

I couldn't get myself up at 8 but managed to at 8:20 or so, so Anna slept in until 8:30 which I thought would be just fine, but she was super crabby for the first hour of the morning. I didn't know what to do for her. She was crying "hold you on floor" and I gather she wanted me to stand and hold her, but I can't do that for long because it hurts my back & and puts a bit more pressure on Baby than I'd like. I explained this to her and eventually I got her to calm down while I held her on the couch. We played outside a bit and then the rental car was delivered so we hit the road. She was a bit squirmy toward the end of our trip to Carrefour but I figured it was because it was close to lunch and naptime.

After her nap, Craig came home and we went to do our eye test for our temporary drivers licenses. Anna did a great job there but when we got to the picture place in the mall to get some passport photos of each of us (for our residence permits and Craig's & my drivers licenses), she did not want to get her picture taken. I told Craig that he should be really appreciative of me because if I had had to take her to the mall to get portraits done all these months we wouldn't have any pictures of her! We ended up asking the guy to let me take the picture and I did get one, but she is crying in it. I hope that the Qatari government accepts it because I just don't think she's going to do any better any time soon. However, she is still overtired, so I guess there's a chance that, in another week or so, when she's caught up on sleep she'll be more open to things? Who can say.

Tomorrow we have to go do our blood tests and I'm really miffed because it looks like Anna & I are going to miss checking out the playgroup tomorrow because of it! I've been really looking forward to this all week so I'm super bummed. We might still try to make it (blood tests are at 9:30 and playgroup is at 10:30) but I'm doubtful.

I'm also really hoping to get some sleep tonight. Am trying to get to bed a bit earlier now (just took a one-hour nap today) so we'll see how it goes. The plan is that if Anna's still waking after tomorrow, Craig will sleep in the guest room with the monitor and I'll stay in our room (it's further from Anna's room) with the door shut and he's in charge of her. Hopefully she'll just sleep through tonight and tomorrow!! (I've got to hold on to a dream, don't I?) It's all just preparation for Baby Girl, I guess.

Viscious Cycle

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It's 4 AM and I haven't slept yet. Anna woke at 11:30, I held her for a few minutes and she was awake but not mad until 2 AM so I went back in and held her a little longer. I'm still awake. I think I napped too long yesterday. It is so hard to not nap in the afternoon but I'll try to at least take a shorter nap tomorrow. I'm feeling hopeful abut Anna's jet lag at least since she was awake for less time tonight. Planning an 8 AM start again in the morning (yikes! I have less than four hours to sleep tonight!!).

Trying To Get Back on Track


Anna had a lot of fun putting the candy on the gingerbread house. She had even more fun eating a few of the gumdrops.

Craig's company's welcome wagon came today with a basket of treats and some good information pamphlets & brochures. I was feeling kind of left out since last time when we went to Korea they set us up with Erica & Joel right away as our "hosts." This is a little less personal than that, but at least now I have a few numbers at hand.

Last night Anna woke up at 9:30 PM and was really upset and did not want to be in her crib. My original plan for her when she woke around 1 AM was to lay down with her for a bit so Anna & I went to the guest room together at 9:30.

She really did try to sleep but just couldn't get there. She did a lot of talking (reviewing all of her favorite things, reciting lines from books, etc.) and a lot of log-rolling (I had set up pillow barriers on the opposite side of the bed to act as speed-bumps so she wouldn't just roll right onto the tile floor below.

Every once in a while, she would say "get down" but each time I gave her a choice: sleep with mommy in the guest bed or sleep in crib alone. At 2:30 AM she finally chose the crib and went there without a fuss. I woke her at 8 AM as planned and although it was a struggle, we made it until 12:45 for a nap (she asked for her pacifier several times but I only gave her her pig).

We both took a three hour nap in the afternoon and she seemed fine with getting in the pack & play again tonight. I'm crossing my fingers that she felt as good as I did today because even though I was awake from 9:30-2:00, I felt more rested at 2 when I came to bed and then I actually slept(!) from 2-6:30!

I think we both need to get out of the house tomorrow though so I am getting my rental tomorrow and we're going to go to Carrefour to get some groceries. We went to City Center (the mall where Carrefour is located) tonight for dinner so I feel pretty good about how to get there (and back). I'll be sure to post about our first driving adventure tomorrow!

I hope we get our Internet set up at home soon (especially now that I know we are actually supposed to have it!). Once we have it, I'll be able to email, etc. Basically all I've been doing is writing my posts in another program and then copying & pasting it into Movable Type and then waiting and waiting for it to post—and sometimes that takes all day! I'll also be looking forward to doing video chats with Nana & Papa, Grandma & Grandpa, and any of the cousins (so everyone better have their cameras (and Skype accounts) ready to go!

The Rest of the Day


Anna enjoying some lunch at her seat at the head of the table.

Anna & I ended up sleeping until 10:30 this morning. I fell asleep sometime after 6 AM and only slept really well (Craig was still snoring, then he was getting ready for work, etc.) from about 8:00-9:00. After a quick shower, I went to Anna's room and opened up her shades and she kept sleeping. So I laid down on one of the beds in her room and woke up an hour later and she did as well. I figured it was best to let her sleep really late today since we had to go to the orientation for Craig's work and I didn't want another "incident" like at the mall yesterday.

The driver came to get us at 11:45 as promised and took us to get a very short briefing on some security things. We need to register with the US Embassy here and he told me (because I am female) that I do not need to pull over while driving unless I'm in an accident or for an unmarked police car (I should still pull over for an obvious police car/officer). He took our pictures for our badges to get into various compounds and the company club and then we were off. Anna sat in her conference chair and was a peach eating out of her snack trap so no problems there.

Anna finally discovered the potty we put in one of the five bathrooms here (we put it in the main one downstairs) this evening so I have a feeling I know what we'll spend a lot of time doing tomorrow... Her bladder is still on Texas time though as she is waking up wet in the mornings so far and is dry during the day when she normally would have been sleeping. We'll see if the presence of the potty changes that.

Craig found out at work today that we are supposed to have Internet up and running already in our villa so we need to get someone to stop by and fix that for us. Also, we will likely be in this villa for 6-8 weeks before we move to the permanent one. I haven't told Anna that we're moving again yet because I figure her world is unsettled enough; I'll wait until we're closer to the date to spring that news on her (and Gertie!).

The mall we went to yesterday had a big fire in it which is really bad news, of course, but (and I realize the world doesn't revolve around me) I was planning to make that my first outing because I am confident in how to get there and the carousel is there. The newspaper hasn't given out all of the details on what exactly was damaged, but is sounds like the carousel area is in jeopardy because the fire was supposedly in one of the restaurants or in the food court near where the carousel is. Anna & I will have to find a different hobby, I guess.

Sunday Starts

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Craig goes in for his first day of work today. If I had real bearings on what day of the week it was, I'd probably write that it's weird he's going to work on Sunday. I'm sure it will just feel like Monday today and then I'll be pleasantly surprised when he doesn't go to work on Friday!

Our villa backs up to a very busy road and although it hasn't seemed to bother Anna yet, I'm curious to see if weekday traffic affects her nap at all. Traffic was pretty light the past few days since it was the weekend but she's also been super tired so who knows if when she is finally caught up on sleep if the noise will bother her. Especially since we lived on a very quiet cul-de-sac in Texas. Loud engines, sirens, and horns aren't easy to get used to. I can hear it really well in our room at the front of the house, too. We might just have to turn all of the in-room a/c fans on to try to deaden the noise if it becomes a problem.

Anna & I had a worse night last night; she was up at 1 AM again and I went in at 1:30 because she was angrily yelling "get out!" I heard her probably once every hour until 5 AM. I'm still up at 6:15 AM because either someone is yelling "get out!", meowing throughout the house, or snoring like a freight train. I really hope Anna can get back on track in the next couple of days because I would like to get back on track, too! I'm jealous of Craig's ability to sleep through everything right now.

Jet Lag Ramblings

Anna & Craig decorating the tree. I'm so glad that we got a tree here, it was something I was feeling sad that Anna was missing out on at home.

When we arrived on Thursday night it was raining a bit and it was also raining yesterday (just a light sprinkling, actually). I realize that later I will appreciate the rain more but yesterday I was really wanting some bright sunshine to help us with our jet lag. Anna really had a hard time believing me when I told her it was time to be awake at 4 PM and it was just not that bright outside. She woke up at 1 AM last night and I went to her at 2:15 AM after she started crying a bit. After I held her for a few minutes, I went back to bed and didn't hear from her again all night but I couldn't fall back asleep until after 5 AM. We all woke up around 9 AM this morning and I think that was a better time to get started than yesterday's 9:30.

Yesterday we went to City Center Mall and Carrefour but we went too early and most everything was closed). We ended up going back out after Anna's nap to get what we could at Toys R Us (a baby monitor, a potty, and some Play Doh). Anna had her pacifier in her mouth for most of the day as she must have caught Craig's cold from last week as well as having jet lag & not enough sleep.

Today we went to Landmark mall and took Anna on the carousel and did some grocery shopping at Mega Mart. Anna was getting fussy at Mega Mart because she wanted to eat "samples" like at home. She was asking for grapes & tortillas (HEB is great for samples, and apparently Anna has come to expect this; unfortunately Mega Mart isn't the same way!). Craig took her back out to the mall and I did the shopping. I spent way too much money and got a lot of the same brands we have at home. I was actually a bit surprised that they really have everything here. It comes at a price, but we really won't have to do without while we're here.

Toward the end of my shopping, I heard a baby crying. My baby. Anna really wanted her pacifier (funny how easy it is to get hooked on that thing out of the crib!) but we didn't have it with us. I went though the check out and Craig & Anna met me by the mall entrance where we threw the bags in the trunk of the car. Anna had calmed herself by the time she got in the car, but she still really wanted that pacifier when we got home. Really, I think she was hungry and getting a bit tired (she ate well and then took a good nap).

She woke up more easily from her nap this afternoon and didn't need her pacifier before bed (although it was requested a few times).

Anna & I checked out the playground at the compound while Craig went back to Carrefour to get a new litter box for Gertie and a Christmas tree with decorations for us (we shipped our 6ft tree by sea). Anna really liked helping Craig decorate the tree and I'll post pictures of that later (probably after we get to an Internet cafe as connecting to the neighbor's wi-fi is really spotty and not easy to do).

I know I'm writing more about Anna & that pacifier than Doha, but I don't feel like we've gotten to see much yet. It's really so Westernized that I don't feel strange about being here and I'm more focused on Anna than the fact that we're somewhere very far from home. Her cold seemed better today and she didn't need any Motrin like yesterday but we gave her some decongestant tonight since her nose is still super stuffy & runny during the day.

Tomorrow a car is supposed to come pick up Craig for work and then later in the morning another car comes to pick up me & Anna to go to some kind of orientation. I'm a little nervous about this since I really don't like installing the carseat by myself and what am I supposed to do with the carseat when I get to where we're going? Oh well, it's just one day and hopefully Anna will be easily entertain-able (and I'll definitely bring the pacifier in my purse so we don't create a scene like we did at Landmark today!).

I imagine at some point this week we'll get my rental car so Anna & I can get out and about although I am a bit nervous about navigating the roads as signs aren't very abundant and there is quite a bit of construction. I'll probably wait to venture out on my own with Anna until I get my cell phone so at least I can call for help if I really need it! There are two playgroups I'm interested in checking out with Anna, one on Mondays and the other on Wednesdays. Hopefully one will be a good fit so we can go each week. I don't think we'll make the one on Monday this week since Anna has been sick and I'm not sure how her jet lag will be, but hopefully we can make it to the Wednesday one.

Gertie was trying to take over Anna's room as there is a bed near the window she likes to look out, but luckily, I brought one of her little fleece-lined cat beds with and placed it in the guest bedroom and now we have found Gertie relaxing there in front of that window (actually a much bigger & better window for a cat to lounge & look out of). Gertie seems jet lagged, too, but since cats sleep so much it's hard to say. She is coming to bed to sleep next to me in the morning instead of trying to wake me up (which she does anyway when she comes to bed; I just can't win).

Oh, and if you're still reading: we sold our house to the couple that came to see it on Wednesday morning. Closing is before the end of the month. I'm a little sad about saying goodbye to the house (all of our memories of Anna are there and the time we had with Tillie there) but I know I'll be excited for us to get something that fits us a little better when we move back with two kids.

I'm sure my posts won't be so incredibly long as we get settled further!

Departure & Arrival

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The angle looks a little funny, but this chair reclined completely flat. It took Anna a while to find a comfy position! Photo by Craig.

Wednesday morning I met the cleaning ladies out at the house and while I was there, a Realtor & a couple stopped and asked if they could take a look at the house. They were there a while and asked a few questions that made me think that they were interested. Later in the morning after I went back to the hotel & Craig, Anna, & I were driving back to the house, our Realtor called to say that that couple wanted to make an offer on the house! The house sits on the market for one and a half months with absolutely no action for three weeks and then someone makes an offer on the day we're leaving? Crazy.

Anna & Craig slept in until 9 AM and after we showed Anna that the house was empty and said goodbye to it, we went out to lunch and then got everything together for the airport. Gertie was easy to catch but this time she hissed at me (I guess the rushing around clued her in that this was a bigger deal than the last couple of times I've had to catch her last week (to go to the vet for her travel certificate and to move to the hotel). She complained a bit in the van to the airport and I was glad I thought to put the locks from our new suitcases on both zippers to Gertie's carrier as she did try to claw/chew her way out a few times.

We left the hotel a little after 1 PM. The international terminal was crazy but many thanks to Craig's work for forking over the money for business seats for all of us as we got helped at the counter quickly by waiting in the business line (I felt awful for all of the other parents with kids in the longer line so I really appreciated this more than I think I may have in the past).

Nothing too remarkable to report about the airport. Anna had fun looking at the airplanes from the terminal and getting a bit of exercise before we boarded. Craig sat next to Anna on the plane so I had it pretty easy with my new motto of "live and let Craig" whenever Anna was squirmy or fussy. Really, she was great though and we didn't even get out any toys on the plane (something that's never happened when it has just been me & her). She had her pig that she sleeps with and her pacifier but she couldn't convince herself to give in to fatigue (no nap today!) until about 10:15 PM. I did not sleep at all on this flight, but Craig & Anna slept about two hours. I guess I just couldn't relax or get comfortable enough.

Gertie did not like take-offs or landings but was relatively complain-free for most of the flight. When we got to Frankfurt we had a bit of a time finding the Lufthansa lounge but it was worth it when we did for a little bit quieter and more relaxing space to wait for our next flight with a cat and a toddler with only two hours of sleep behind her. Anna pretty much kept her pacifier from the time it was given to her—I was glad that it was able to provide her such comfort and am nervous about weaning from it in the coming year.

Really for as much waiting and little sleep we all had to put up with, Anna was a fantastic traveler. She had moments of irrationality, but so did I! Gertie wouldn't take a drink when offered (I was kind of glad since she hadn't used the bathroom for so long but I didn't want her to be super-dehydrated, either).

Anna fell asleep pretty soon after we got on the plane to Bahrain and slept for another three hours. There was a time in there after the three hours where she obviously still wanted to sleep but couldn't get there and I was holding her (I sat next to her for the first part of this flight & I slept, too!) and I had to have Craig take her because the only position Anna wanted was really uncomfortable for me & Baby.

I felt Baby moving a lot more during our travel day than I had for most of the time we were moving. I think because finally I was able to slow down and relax a bit. It was really nice to feel her and I'm looking forward to more regular movement!

Our flight from Frankfurt to Bahrain was delayed by about 45 minutes (after we were on the plane) but since we were all exhausted it worked out fine. This was an instance where it was better to have to wait on the plane than off! We stayed on the plane in Bahrain and were delayed a bit again because both the Bahrain & Doha airports were busy and we had to wait in line for takeoff and for a space on the tarmac in Doha.

Customs was smooth sailing and all of our suitcases came off just as we walked up to the baggage carousel (it helped that the flight from Bahrain was pretty empty!). We had to wait a bit for a bigger car to take us and our six checked bags, the cat, Anna's carseat & stroller, my backpack, Anna's diaper bag, and Craig's carry-on. We had a ton of luggage!

The drive to our villa was find since we arrived at 11:30 and traffic was light. Anna seemed excited to check out the new place and she helped me get Gertie set up in the laundry room with food, water, and litter. We got Anna's room set up and she was ready to hop in bed after a snack and some books at about 12 AM. I heard her cry/fuss a bit around 1 or 1:30 AM (we were still up unpacking a bit, etc) but didn't end up having to go in to her. She is still sawing logs at 7:40 AM as I write this now! How I have been blessed with an awesome sleeper!! I really hope Baby Girl takes after Craig this way, too!

Our villa is nice although the decorating style is definitely not my own; it is very formal and grand. I'll take & post some pictures soon.

Our rental car just arrived and I guess we'll start getting ready to get out and about to get to know our new city! I'll post again later with some pictures and more first impressions.

We Made It!


Just a quick note to let you know we made it. One of the neighbors has a wi-fi set up so if we stand just-so on our balcony from our bedroom, we can get a connection.

I need to get to bed now, but will post sometime tomorrow with details from the trip.
Anna is a great little traveler and Gertie even did pretty well (well for any cat, not just her). Lufthansa has the best customer service that I've experienced in air travel by far.

We're getting a rental car in the morning so we can run out and buy a baby gate for the top of the stairs and a litter box (amongst other things, but those are my current highest priorities). Craig's company is nice enough to stock the pantry & fridge with a few basics for you upon arrival so even groceries aren't super critical instantly.

Qatar Status


It might be one or two months before we get our Internet connection at our house in Doha (it requires a residence permit) but I will try to post updates as often as I can by stopping at Internet cafes.

And We're Off!


Tuesday got a little crazy with everything that needed to be done. Craig took the car out to the house to meet the movers so Anna & I were in the hotel on our own. I made a bunch of phone calls (canceling car insurance, etc.) and it felt like the phone was ringing off the hook. All the while, Anna was yelling, "pee on toilet! pee on toilet!" (she still hasn't gone on the toilet but it's obvious she really wants to be potty trained—finally we can get serious about it once we arrive in Doha).

At about eleven when I realized I didn't pack a swim diaper for Anna, I decided we had better go on a walk to wear her out a bit so she would take a good nap. We walked about 15 minutes (Anna-speed; picking up acorns, pointing out "all the pine needles!", etc.) to lunch and the book store. Then we walked all the way back. Anna took an awesome nap. So awesome, that we had to wake her at 4 PM so we could go get the rental car.

Craig & Anna got the rental car and I drove the Mazda down to Carmax where we were 30 miles over our 1 week or 300 mile guaranteed offer we had with them so I had to wait for them to do another appraisal. Then it was to take another 45 mintues (after waiting in line for 10) to get the paperwork done. I sent Craig & Anna to dinner and I waited at Carmax. Finally, everything was finished, they came back to get me and then we drove back to the hotel in time for Anna to get into bed.

I had wanted to take Anna to hear some carolers tonight but didn't get to since we were stuck at Carmax. I also saw a display of really awesome lights that we just ran out of time to show her. I really regret that she didn't get to see it as I know she would have loved it. I know we'll be back in the States for Christmas again someday though so hopefully it will still be as amazing to her then as it is now.

We finally figured out the sleeping arrangements last night, too. I slept in the bed (with Gertie), Craig slept on the pull-out couch in the family room, and Anna slept in her crib in the second room (that was obviously a no-brainer since Sunday night).

Oh, and we had to make a last-minute decision yesterday when the movers called to say that not everything we had designated for our air shipment was going to fit (it fit weight-wise—we were 3 pounds under—but not cubic-feet-wise). We decided to put Anna's crib in the sea shipment which I hope was not a big mistake! Our thinking was this: she seems perfectly content in the pack & play. The air shipment comes in 2-3 weeks. The sea shipment comes in 6-8 weeks. She's moving to a toddler bed soon anyway. The toddler bed is in the sea shipment as well. I'm thinking we'll give her the option of moving straight to the toddler bed when the sea shipment arrives. She might just be ready, especially if she's potty trained already. We'll see how it goes!

This morning I am meeting the cleaning ladies at our house early and then we just have a couple of quick things to do before the van comes to get us at 1 PM. I may try to check in at the airport or during our layover, but it may not be until we are in Qatar that I check in again. Wish us luck!

Last Things

We've gotten down to the last story time, the last coffee shop muffin, etc. Tanya came for my car yesterday so we're down to just Craig's car. We went to dinner for the last time at the "pizza parlor" with our friends last night.

Anna is doing remarkably well during all of this, but I'm sure she hasn't grasped the concept fully yet, either. She knows something is up and she wants to be with me & Craig but I don't believe she "gets" that we're not going to live in our house anymore, etc.

She did a great job in the hotel last night and is talking just a little bit now during her nap. Hopefully she will eventually fall asleep so we can take a well-rested child on the plane with us on Wednesday.

Gertie is doing well in the hotel, too. She is using the litter box, eating & drinking, and even slept next to me last night like usual. She's even purring a bit.

I, however, had a miserable night on the hotel bed. It is hard as a rock and both of my hips were aching by midnight! Oh well, if someone is not going to sleep well, I prefer it would be me and not Anna (because then we both wouldn't get any sleep!).

The movers packed up our air & sea shipments on Friday and I don't understand why they didn't take that away with them on Friday, but they have put most of that in the truck now and are packing up the storage stuff. They'll come back tomorrow to take the storage stuff. It was actually probably easier for us because we were able to add some last-minute stuff to the sea shipment, but it's kind of a pain to have to deal with them for three days instead of one or two. Oh well, we're almost done now.

Just two more nights in the hotel and then we're on our way!

At the Hotel

We are at the hotel. Gertie is in our room, Anna is in her own room, Craig is watching the Broncos, and I'm on my way out to Old Navy to get a few little things for Baby Girl (she can't have only hand-me-downs!)... Will post more later tonight if I have energy!

20 Months & Moving Little Things

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The past week we have been driving around looking for Christmas lights on houses. We took Anna into town the night Craig came back from Korea and she was mesmerized by the giant Christmas tree in the park and the colored lights shining through the water fountains. It is so adorable how excited she gets about the Christmas lights! She excitedly exclaims throughout the drives:

"Let's find some more!"
"Drive around look for Christmas lights on houses!"
"There's some on ground/house/garage/trees."
"Let's go this way."
"Oh my, look at all Christmas lights!"

She likes to spot candycanes (big ones and teeny-tiny ones), point out different colors, and she especially liked it when we found someone with an inflatable carousel in their yard. She had the biggest smile when we parked in front of their house and gawked for a few minutes.

As far as moving goes, she seems to be doing fine so far. Grandma took her out to the Children's Museum & the carousel yesterday while the movers packed our air & sea shipments. She came home to boxes all over the house and exclaimed, "Oh my, look at all big boxes!" She had a little bit of a hard time falling asleep for her nap, but I blame that on the fresh scent of marker (that they labeled the boxes with) because it was really getting to me as well.

Overall, she doesn't seem to mind sleeping in the pack & play surrounded by boxes or that she only really has two toys out to play with right now (her stroller & a firetruck filled with firefighter, dog, fire hydrant, & water bucket). We've been going out to eat so much it doesn't feel like we're home to care too much about the lack of "stuff" right now.

She's only asked for a couple of things that are packed in the boxes (the lego box, the sit & spin, and the footstools for the bathrooms) and seems satisfied when I tell her those items are in the boxes and will come to Doha after we arrive.

Even the cat seems to be doing OK with everything so far (she wasn't thrilled with me when I caught her and put her in the master bathroom while the movers were packing us, but she stopped meowing once she heard their boxes & tape going.

I think I'm officially at the point where I just want to get there. Most of our stuff is packed up and I'm ready to be done with the process on this end.

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