The first thing Misha did when we arrived home was have a reunion with all of his toys.
There are some things we really miss about Egypt. Namely:
- the fact that people go outside all the time and you can take walks
- you can glance out your taxi window and occasionally see a woman at the wheel of the car beside you
- you have the pleasure of being served by a woman once in awhile, like in a pharmacy or a restaurant
- you can eat pork if you want to and have a drink if you want to
- you can go to the movie theater
- you can wear what you like and the streets are filled with colorful clothes
- it feels like you really are in a different country because there is Arabic all around you, and local people enjoy talking to you
All of those things are either very rare or point-blank illegal in Saudi Arabia, so we made the most of our time while in Egypt. However, there are some things that we appreciate about Saudi Arabia after coming back. These include:
- everything is quite clean here
- we have our own great apartment, bathtub, stove, and car, and we know how to get places
- we don't have to haggle over prices anywhere
- people don't guilt trip you for a tip every time you go to the bathroom
- it's easy to find good food and convenient to go shopping
Home sweet home.
Coming back to Riyadh this time around was completely different than our first-timer arrival into the country. Gone was all the stress of finding day care, an apartment, a car, and figuring out how to navigate this address-less city. We already know exactly how to get to work, the grocery store, the DVD store, our favorite fresh juice shop, the dry cleaner's, and our favorite malls. Plus, we had a few weeks of vacation left before the university started up again, so we had time to relax and settle back in.
Though we had the good fortune of being away for the hottest part of the year, September in Riyadh is no cool breeze. It's still 90-some degrees even well after sun set. Misha insisted on wearing his soccer sweatshirt in this photo - not because it was chilly out, but because he was going out to play soccer. Obviously. So he certainly couldn't take it off! By the end of his half hour soccer session, he was rosy-cheeked and soaked with sweat.
Sebastian knows the importance of staying hydrated.
Ready for tennis!
The kids are doing great and growing up quickly! Sebastian already has a handful of words under his belt, including "hi" and "bye," "uh-oh" (in perfect context), "ju" for juice (or any food item at all), "okay," and more recently, "up," "all gone," and "owie" (again in perfect context). He also does an amazing imitation of a cat's meow as well as the funniest sound effects for eating when he's hungry. (The comedy show reaches its pinnacle when Sebby chirps "juuuuuuu?" and makes his munching sound effects while trying to stick his hand down my shirt. Oh boy.)
Drinking successfully by himself! Well, sort of ...
Sebby is becoming more and more of a playmate for Misha, though they still fight more than they get along. Nevertheless, Sebastian's ability to sit and stack legos or to concentrate on filling a page with colorful marker scribbles has vastly increased, and the boys are able to enjoy more and more things together.
Misha helps us out by pushing Sebby in the grocery store in the new stroller.
Always finding new things to play with! This spatula will be long gone by the next time mom urgently needs it to flip pancakes at breakfast time...
As for Misha, his creativity and vocabulary continue to amuse and impress me. A sampling of Kid Talk:
"Mom, you're a great guy."
"Daddy, how come you're a boss but you're not the real boss, because Mommy's the real boss?" (in response to Josh's comment to 'go ask mom.')
"I'm still trying to concentrate."
"Be careful - it's very fragile!"
"My voice is kind of crunchy." (when he was hoarse)
"It looks marvelous!" (upon seeing the newly arranged living room)
"She has bracelets on her teeth." (that is, braces)
"I'm kind of like Ramadan because, you know Ramadan? You don't eat?" (while recovering from the flu)
"I'm the starvingest one in our family! The starvingest!"
"Mom, you smell good. You smell like cookies."
"I don't wanna distract him anymore because he's trying to sleep."
"You're my bestest mama and you're comfy." (snuggling at night)
And I'll conclude with the kid of quote that epitomizes life with two kids. "Mom! Sebby's trying to put the peanut butter in the bathtub!"
We filled our vacation time with various activities....
like making chocolate chip cookies,
and of course, going shopping. Since we returned to Riyadh during the last week of Ramadan, almost everything was closed during the day, opening up only after 9 p.m. for a frenzy of shoppers. Absolutely no restaurants were open in the city before sundown, and even though some grocery stores were open in the afternoon, everything shut down again for several hours while the entire city broke the fast with their families. After the meal, starting at 9 a.m., people began to flock to the malls. It was madness - Riyadh is nocturnal during Ramadan. Being stuck on the compound all day meant that we too wanted to get out and do something - so off to the mall we went. Unfortunately, this meant that we were shopping with the kids from 9 to midnight or later, which threw off all of our schedules drastically. The process of getting our schedules back to normal once work started was not pleasant.
Air hockey at the mall.
Checking out the toy store.
Wii Bowling at Jarir Bookstore, the Barnes & Noble of KSA.
We met a very sweet Syrian family during Ramadan and celebrated the birthdays of the father and daughter with them (until very late into the night, of course). Misha and their son Ziad, after fighting most of the night, bonded in the back seat of the car and suddenly didn't want to say goodbye!