Monday, July 12, 2010

Ah, summer vacation

We leave for Egypt tomorrow! Our last working day was the middle of last week, so we have had about a week in Riyadh to relax, go shopping for the kids, and run errands. We've been particularly busy with getting everything settled for our residency permits, which have to be in order before we leave the country. So many hoops to jump through! And Josh, being the man, gets to do most of the dirty work of finding out where official places are, figuring out when they open, and deciphering what documents they need. It's a process. We'll be doing more paperwork in Cairo before re-entering the Kingdom.

Misha joined me on campus for my last day of work so he could register for the kindergarten there for fall. (That has been a headache of paperwork as well!) It will be so great having him one building over from me. Plus, he'll learn lots of Arabic in this school. During our day on campus, I tried to keep him entertained. We spent a little time in the garden of palm trees - but not too much, because it was so hot.

Misha in the teachers' office room.

The boys enjoy the pool on a hot afternoon. We always swim after 5 p.m. to avoid the worst of the sun.

We ventured outside of the compound to this nearby park. I was feeling rather depressed about being stuck in my big, long abaya, which discourages me from playing much with the kids, like taking Sebby down the slide. But it's a better way to interact with people in the area. I talked to another mother in my limited Arabic, and Misha made some buddies by sharing his new sand toys.

The Chili's restaurant, as we discovered serendipitously, has a great shaded park in back for kids! I think Misha had more fun here than anywhere since we've been here.

This is Enid, our wonderful babysitter for Sebastian (and for Misha when he has days off from preschool). Before we left for the summer, we wanted to take her out for dinner - thus, the Chili's expedition. It was a nice evening.

It's funny how Sebastian has realized that the abaya means someone is leaving. When Enid would come in the morning, Sebby would start to whimper as I put on my abaya to leave. When I came home after work and Enid put on her abaya, he knew she was heading home and he would start to wave goodbye.

Sebby falls asleep in funny places. He fights sleep until he's simply too tired to hold his head up, and he conks out right on the floor. Misha kindly put a sheet over him. ;)

On that same day, Misha fell asleep in the closet!

Both kids still have an affinity for crowding into small spaces.

And Misha is forever doing his projects. He makes all sorts of creative things, like this elephant trunk. He does get homesick, especially for his relatives in the US, but he has been adjusting well particularly these last few weeks. Lately he has been talking about building a rocket, or wings, or a tunnel, or a special computerized way to travel back and forth from Saudi Arabia to America. That's quite a task! He gets so involved in his projects that we have to tempt him out of the house to do errands by promising a ride on the roller coaster.

Another project - a papier mache mask.

You can often find Misha with a pencil in one hand and his special bear, Growl, in the other.

Misha in my abaya. When I asked him why, he said he was cold.

Josh and I have had a little extra time to wander the Dira Sooq some more. Here we are outside of Masmak Fort.

We took Misha out to eat at Fuddruckers - and gave him the chance to play a few games.

Driving a Hummer in Toys R Us. Many people actually own Hummers here - it comes in handy when you want to drive over a curb, as so many drivers to do maneuver to a better position.

My first trip to Riyadh Gallery (another mall). They have a beautiful landscaped scene where you can sit and drink coffee while admiring the stuffed animals.

Misha showing off his new clothes.

Hat shopping for Sebby.

Eyeing the dresses - this one sells for 1000 Riyals. ($260)

And of course, we made sure some of our time this past week was spent on mall rides and games. Misha loves this miniature air hockey table. The best part is that since air hockey requires no attendant, it is open during prayer time. Misha played over and over during the break. He even played several games against other kids - he liked that a lot more than playing mom and dad.

Prayer times at this time of year happen at about 3:15 a.m., noon, 3-ish in the afternoon, 6:30 p.m., and 8:00 p.m. Times vary depending on when the sun rises and sets. The first prayer happens at dawn - and if you don't believe that the sun actually rises at 3:15 in the morning, just ask Josh. He was awake quite late one night and he has confirmed this phenomenon. We were amazed.

Each time prayer hits, all stores close down for about half an hour. In theory it doesn't seem like this would matter so much, but in reality, it is uncanny how often we arrive at a store only to find that the gates are closing. In a city where so much time is wasted in traffic, it is hard to be patient for even longer when a store is closed for prayer. We try to schedule our outings so as not to run into more than one prayer time - but it's not easy!

The best time to go shopping is in the morning. Most places are open by 9:30, giving you several hours until noon prayer. Most places close in the heat of the day from 12 to 4, at which point they open until late into the night, sometimes until 11 or midnight. Most of the Saudis like to shop after the last prayer, which means shops are incredibly crowded at night and filled with families with children.

The boat ride.

Another favorite - bumper cars!

Big guy in a little car.

Misha on display!

Dad and Misha in the mall.

Me with the kids in Gap.


kate said...

I love the picture of Sebby sleeping under the table. He is so adorable!
Misha is so creative just like his mommy. :o) Thanks for the pictures.
Grandma Kate

Bill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kate said...

I love Sebby's new hat picture.

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