Monday, December 31, 2012

What Happens When You Vacation BACK to the US from Saudi Arabia?

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First of all, how was it possible that we all were able to come back to the US for a mini-vacation? We have only been in Saudi Arabia for 6 months. My company was so generous and thoughtful to give me and the kids’ airline tickets to visit the US. During the month of November, I had a bit of a “culture shock” melt down and I think my boss agreed that I just needed a little break to refresh and recharge.

Before we flew out, each family member stated what we needed to stock up on when we got back to the US. Other than being with and enjoying our family, our other mission was to load up on the things that were either too expensive or too hard to find in Saudi.

The “stocking-up” began with my brother taking the kids to Wal-Mart. Not just a regular Super Wal-Mart, but a miniature regular sized small town Wal-Mart. His trip with them took over an hour  2 hours! My brother let them buy whatever they wanted and it was just so funny to see the random things that they chose to buy (based on the things that they must have missed the most).
Our youngest son bought:
·         Chocolate donuts and beef jerkey
·         Angry bird game and watch
·         Trident ice-cream flavored gum –and a
·         12 pack of Capri Sun drinks!

Our daughter bought:
·         US Weekly magazine
·         Press on finger-nails complete with art designs
·         12 pack of HUGS juice drinks –and a
·         Mini-video camera

Our oldest son bought:
·         Beef Jerkey
·         gum and candy
·         A remote control helicopter

While the kids were going crazy at the little Wal-Mart, the hubby and I were hoarding items at the Super Wal-Mart in the next city over.
Here is what we (mostly me) bought:
·         5 boxes of Cold-brew Lipton Iced Tea bags
·         5 tubes of Burt’s Bee’s chapstick
·         5 automatic eye-liners (self-sharpening)
·         My favorite shampoo and conditioner
·         Tomato bouillon cubes
·         Goldfish snacks and Cheez-itz      
·         Chili powder (to make home-ade chili with)
·         Ranch Dressing mix
·         Creamy peanut butter-3 jars
·         Grits (oh, how I missed them!)
·         4 bottles of makeup foundation, powder, eye shadow and lipstick
·         Tampons
·         Saltine crackers
·         Loads of kids Tylenol chewable tablets and chewable Pepto Bismol tablets
·         Socks for the boys

Things I forgot to bring back L  (dang it! why didn’t I think of that while I was there!)
·         Chef Boyardee Ravioli
·         Neosporin
·         Bengeit mix (not available, sadly)
·         Hot Tamales candy
·         Bubble-icious-gum

After our major splurging trip, we made sure to eat at our favorite places throughout the week. We went to: Larry’s BBQ-twice, Cracker Barell, Captain D’s, McDonald’s (for breakfast), IHOP, Chick-fil-A and Olive Garden. Stores we (me) got carried away in were: Old Navy, Bath & Body Works, JCPenny, Dillards, WAL-MART, Target, Barnes & Noble, Michael’s, Kohl’s and several shoe stores.
I was sure to also bring back many children’s books, Beth Moore and Joel Osteen studies, a mini-Christmas tree for each child, new clothes and shoes for the whole family, magazines and my Keurig coffee maker!

Of course there were more high-lights of our trip, but the best ones of all were spending time with friends and family that we hadn’t seen in years!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Wild Monkeys!

It is hard to believe that my family has been in Saudi Arabia for 6 months now! We are lucky to have relatives close by to fill us in on things to do. Life here can get a bit boring. Why? Well, we can’t just walk outside our apartment and go for a walk. We do sometimes, but only when we need to get a snack or a few groceries. (I am notorious for “forgetting” to buy things when we go to the grocery store!) We don’t have the “American” luxuries of our Texas neighborhood, where we had a pool and a playground nearby. Unlike most western expats we live in an apartment instead of a compound.

So, let me get back to why I am writing this blog post today. Well, over the weekend, we had an amazing little adventure…..with monkeys! Before I tell you about the monkeys, let me tell you about the events leading up to it. We left at sunset and drove towards the mountains. It was about a 3 ½ hour trip and my 2 brother in laws and sister in law joined us. The kids rode with them most of the way and gave Sohail and I little break from “he hit me” and “she touched me!” We drove past Taif to a city called Shifa. We stopped for some roasted corn, fresh fruit and our dinner of roasted chicken and rice. 
Then, we checked into a resort that my husband and his brothers had stayed in last year. It was a sweet little villa type home that had a kitchen,a living room, 4 bathrooms and 4 bedrooms. It was not a Hilton, but was nice and clean and we loved it! It had a playground that we played on at night time and we also made a fire. The kids had fun burning wood and making torches! What we loved about our stay was that it was cold. It felt like December in the mountains! We wore sweatshirts and jackets and were freezing! Compared to the daily winter weather of 90 degrees Fahrenheit, this mountain air was amazing!

The next morning we slept past noon and then checked out of the resort. We headed back down the mountain on the ever so winding road! We stopped to see cactus and flowers. And then….we saw WILD MONKEYS! We pulled to the side of the road and saw so many…they were climbing the mountains in packs! There were large daddy monkeys with furry manes and medium sized mommy monkeys with babies either on their backs or stomachs. We decided to feed the monkeys and pulled out some apples and bananas. Several monkeys then jumped on our car. They were so big and my daughter screamed as my little boys laughed hysterically. After the monkeys jumped off our car, we threw the fruit out the window. It was so cute to see them holding the fruit like people do! However,the big daddy monkey kept taking it all and not sharing! We were astonished at such selfish behavior! Oh well. After our fruit was gone, we continued down the spiraling road. A few hours later, in Taif, we stopped at another local fruit stand and bought strawberries, tiny red apples, tangerines and baby bananas!Then, about an hour later we saw more MONKEYS! This time, our little one threw an apple and the daddy monkey caught it! Oh what an adventure!  We then stopped to take pictures of the mountains-we couldn't resist!
To end our adventure, all the kids chanted “we have to go to the bathroom!” So, we found a rest area and my daughter and I endured the “squatty potties” again.  No problem-we are used to it now!