So, S and I are starting a new journey into musical self-education. We are going to be listening together to albums of music that are new to us both until we leave Dubai. We are feeling inspired by the fact that I am going back to work, our shared commute, and our mutual love of music. We are also total nerds and want to make sure that we are doing right by our music education. S has a doctorate in music composition, after all, but it’s in classical and modern music, not rock / current popular music, so we have decided to catch up, School of Rock homework style (see the world of rock mapped out below, per the Jack Black movie). While we both love music, there’s a lot we haven’t covered! Yesterday we kicked things off by re-watching School of Rock and listening to our first album of the project, The Who’s Tommy (S’s pick). We have a few rules of engagement for our listening game - (1) we alternate album picks, (2) picks need to be albums that neither of us have fully listened to previously, (3) we need to listen to each pick all the way through at least twice (to give each pick a fighting chance), (4) we listen to no more than one new album a week (to give time to absorb), and (5) we listen to no less than two new albums a month (to maintain momentum).
So far, we are really excited! When our game is over, we plan to make a playlist with extensive liner notes of song reactions and reasons why songs / albums were picked to commemorate the experience. Here are a few of the picks I have in mind so far (please don’t judge me for having not heard all of these all the way through!):
- Jeff Buckley, “Grace”
- Joni Mitchell, “Blue”
- Nirvana, “Nevermind”
- Jimi Hendrix Experience, “Are You Experienced”
- Bob Marley, “Exodus”
- Blondie, “Parallel Lines”
- The Smiths, “The Smiths”
- Jackson Browne, “The Pretender”
- Willie Nelson, “Red-Headed Stranger”
- Fleetwood Mac, “Rumours”
- Big Star, “#1 Record”
- The Police, “Synchronicity”
- Bob Dylan, “Blood on the Tracks”
- N.W.A., “Straight Outta Compton”
- Jefferson Airplane, “Surrealistic Pillow”
- Led Zeppelin, “Houses of the Holy”
- Crosby Stills Nash and Young, “Deja Vu”
- Janis Joplin, “Pearl”
- Run-DMC, “Raising Hell”
- Ramones, “Ramones”
- James Taylor, “Sweet Baby James”
- Dusty Springfield, “Dusty in Memphis”
- Johnny Cash, “At Folsom Prison”
- The Clash, “London Calling”
- Paul Simon, “Graceland”
- Credence Clearwater Revival, “Chronicle Vol. 1”
- The Who, “Who’s Next”
- The Eagles, “Hotel California”
- Patti Smith, “Horses”
- Steely Dan, “Aja”
- Pretenders, “The Pretenders”
- Aerosmith, “Rocks”
- Sly and the Family Stone, “Greatest Hits”
- Liz Phair, “Exile in Guyville”
- Dire Straits, “Brothers in Arms”
- Outkast, “Stankonia”
- Massive Attack, “Blue Lines”
- The Mamas and The Papas, “If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears”
- The Civil Wars, “The Civil Wars”
- Daft Punk, “Random Access Memories”
- Eminem, “Marshall Mathers LP 2”
We’re looking at a lot for inspiration (including the above mentioned blackboard) but we’re open to suggestions! Everything from Billboard to Rolling Stone. *Love* starting new (but realistic!) projects with my BFF.
Transition Season! So much has changed this summer. Things are moving around up at work with the traditional foreign service summer shake-up - new people and new responsibilities while also saying good bye to good people or watching friends move on to bigger and better things. This summer we saw a changeover and expansion in our work and household staff, a new addition to our family, bosses and A-100 colleagues saying their goodbyes, going on maternity leave, coming back from maternity leave, and a nursery school graduation!
To be honest, all this change wears me out a little - but I guess that’s what I signed up for and I love having so many “do-over”s since I always find things that I wish I did better and the constant rotation of faces gives lots of chances to start fresh. It’s a blessing and a curse. I get to repeat things that I wanted to do better as well as things I hoped I’d never have to do again… This is really hard-hitting when it comes to developing friendships: You finally make a good friend! But then they have to move. But now you don’t have to keep putting up with the lame people that you’ve never had anything in common with… because there are new people to befriend and learn about!
So now I’m trying to be a glass-half-full sort. Here’s to the second year of my Dubai posting - bring it on, 2014-2015 EER cycle!
I have loved spending time with my little girls and will miss being with them when I return to work tomorrow. No more having all the kids climbing into bed with me on a weekday to claim all the pillow space (C also complains that little c is taking her spot) has its pros and cons. I like my bed but I love snuggling with my kids too. I am glad to have work to go back to but I will miss being a constant presence for my kids. As I reflect on my maternity leave, here are some bright spots:
- I’ve create a new game for the girls where I chase them around the room and corner them at the living room couches where I use the tan and teal throw cushions as “bread” and “lettuce” and squish them with the pillows to make a sandwich for eating them.
- I can wake up multiple times in the middle of the night to cuddle them when they have accidents and bad dreams and not feel worried / angry about how its going to affect me at work.
- I became intimately acquainted with how intimately they were acquainted with the dialogue of the entire movie Frozen, which they enjoy acting (and singing) out.
- I got to have daily cuddles with little c - I like watching her as she nurses and as she’s gained muscle strength in her neck and back. She’s able to lift her head, give big real smiles, and coo in conversation with me! She’s absolutely beautiful and I’m glad for everyone moment I get to focus on her.
- I got to see what sweet girls my two eldest can be when I saw how they treated their little sister - big C knows how to give a pacifier and K loves holding and kissing and watching her.
- I got to take care of all the childcare arrangements so I can go back to work without worries - new nannies trained, school fees paid, uniforms purchased, and plans hatched…
- I had time to get my house in order - no more mysterious and dangerous closets or piles of unsorted papers that give me guilt complexes.
S has been joking around that I will be so sad when maternity leave ends. I think he’s trying to lessen the anxiety but it’s a bit like when you joke about something that’s half true so that it takes the edge off of an issue. Of course he’s right, but at least I feel like I spent the time well. And I feel like going back to work is the right choice to make - I have so much to do in life and there’s definitely a big part of what I hope to achieve that is professional. I want my girls to see that their mother needed to be true to her own goals and hopes. I hope they will be true to theirs and there’s no better way encourage that than to live by example. So sure, I will be sad to leave the girls at home but I’m looking forward to this next chapter of mother-of-three-hood and will do my utmost to be the best self, best mother, best wife, best daughter, best sister, and best friend that I can be.
Can you believe there are THREE car seats in the backseat of our little sedan? Apparently I own a clown car. When I told S that my three sisters and I were able to fit into the back of my family’s sedan for years he just looked at me and said, “Yes. And you’re all tiny." And they didn’t believe in car seats until age 10 back then… So, after this car we will probably need to get an SUV but for now I’m pretty impressed with how S and I have managing things. There are 3 different ages of car seats back there - Britax Marathon for 2 year old, Graco Turbo Booster for the 4 year old, and Graco Snug Ride 32 for the baby. At least I have a car seat for every age, right?!
Family Reunion Time! My husband and two older girls got to go home to the Mountain West in the US while I was still recuperating from my labor and delivery from our third daughter. While they were there they took some lovely photos with a professional photographer. They came out lovely! The pictures almost made up for 50% of their jet-lag crankiness when they returned and 25% of how much I missed them while they were gone. It’s so tough getting good family photos too… Wish I could have been there (notice how S looks like he’s “single” in the shot of him with his parents and siblings + siblings-in-law) but I’m glad they got to be together with family.
After nearly an approximately nine month hiatus (What a coincidence! I’ve just had my third child!) I am back. What can I say? Postpartum feelings seem to have driven me back to my feeeeeelings. I am feeling all sorts of of mommy guilt, knowing that I will need to go back to work soon. Add on to that the fact that I’m also anguishing over quarter-life crisis angst since it’s becoming abundantly clear that there are too many things I haven’t done and won’t get done during this desperately short period of “maternity leave” (only 2 months… and it’s sick leave, don’t ask) and may not even get done in this lifetime. Throw on top of that my totally OCD desire for perfection and you get sleep-deprived mother-of-infant irrational depression when you sprinkle in a suddenly-not-functioning-maybe-I-broke-it? (I totally broke it) piece of technology (external hard drive with all my photos and videos, including wedding and first steps…) at 2am between newborn breastfeeding sessions.
Is this an over-share? Oh, let’s not dwell on if I’m making more mistakes in life as I type. Let’s focus on the positive: my children seem to return the favor of being raised by me with moments of levity when I’m wallowing shamelessly in self-doubt and self-pity. This morning my second daughter, K, locked herself in her room and with my husband S’s coaching, she was able to unlock the door to everyone’s great relief. She was crying and scared in her room but the moment she got out she bounced out happy, relieved, and demanded an ice-lolly (Look, her nursery school teacher is British…) to her father’s great amusement. Later, when I was trying to express to S these aforementioned feelings of stress as he was trying to drive off to work, we stood by the car not quite arguing but clearly not enjoying each others’ company at that moment. Our daughters, watching us as they waited to wave their father goodbye for the day, began to shout: “NO FIGHTING! You want a candy?” We couldn’t help it. We laughed and some of the tension was broken.
It was good reminder that perhaps I should just accept that I have good in my life and face what stresses me out with a sense of humor. I leave you with this onesie which summarizes my current self-assessment while reminding me not to take it too seriously:
Our afternoon date at Chill Out ice lounge yielded some excellent photos and a good fix of non-desert-like teeth-chattering. The novelty lasted a good forty-sixty minutes until I got too cold to enjoy the excuse to publicly sit close to my husband in our conservative Muslim host-country, UAE.
Enjoy the photos of the decor, our silly poses, and the ice-glass used to serve out drink!
This past weekend S and I decided to venture out to Chill Out, our local Ice Lounge, for a little couple time. What is an Ice Lounge, you ask? It is a cafe with temperatures kept at -6 degrees Celsius in order to keep the tables, chairs, bar, walls, and decor from melting since they are all made of ice. Yes, frozen water.
Why would someone want to spend time in such a place? Well, given that Dubai is in the middle of the desert some might think it might just be a nice break from the heat. On the other hand, no one ever seems to spend time outside and everywhere inside is air conditioned so that brings us to the establishment’s tagline, a “reason to get closer.” It is a date spot in a place where PDA is firmly discouraged and sometimes forbidden. As such, one needs an excuse to sit close to someone of the opposite gender in public and sitting in a refrigerator room apparently provides a perfect alibi.
S and I had a great time getting dressed in the cafe’s provided winter gear, taking loads of pictures, and sipping hot chocolate with chocolate fondue during our couple time. You can see that we got a bit silly but all in all it was good fun. We laughed at the silliness of it all but while I was in there I really did get cold! Afterwards we picked up a few groceries and I can tell you that I stayed far away from the freezer section and even got a bit shy around the produce chiller. If anything it was a fun introduction to the novelty-fest known as the Dubai scene and a nice reminder of why I love living in the tropics!
Yesterday S and I came home from grocery shopping to find that C had cut her own hair with her safety toddler scissors. It was her first haircut ever and she did it herself. While I was upset with her, I couldn’t help but feel that it was a comeuppance for my own childhood misdeeds.
True to the pattern which I myself set and followed as a little girl, after being told not to play with the scissors C she simply continued her cutting more quietly and hid in a corner creating a small pile of hair trimmings in the few minutes that her nanny’s back was turned. In the end she only gave herself a few choppy bangs so it was no real disaster but I still made her take a mug shot with the evidence of her crime (see above) while also making her do a “sorry face” (also above) for the camera to show extended family.
When I was a kid I cut my sister’s hair and then let her cut mine. I had already given her the requested “Minnie Mouse” (read, close cropped with an exaggerated widow’s peak) haircut and she was halfway through giving me a Peter Pan haircut when my horrified mother found us. Her mother-in-law, our grandmother, was just about to visit our family for the first time and our naughtiness would be visibly crowned and unavoidably displayed for that entire time. From the pictures, you can tell that I didn’t let my haircut bother me when my grandmother came to visit so while I am trying to teach C not to play with scissors, I’m trying not to let it bend me out of shape this time either.
Happy Grandparents’ Day, Pohpoh & Gonggong! Oma & Apa! Our little girls were so excited to share the poster C made for you in nursery school today (first project from her new school!) She wanted to share with you in person but we hope this will hold you over until she can give you the original in person!
Love, C & K