It's hard to believe, but it's been nearly a year since we've come to Saudi Arabia. In the life of a child, a year is a long time - so much growing happens in just one spin of the earth. Misha has the same desire for learning that we've always seen, and his recent obsessions are Harry Potter and chess. He has high hopes of playing a real game with Grandpa this summer!
And Sebby just keeps getting cuter and more communicative. He always makes us laugh, whether he's climbing up onto the little coffee table to dance on his "stage" or trying to copy Misha's sommersaults by scooting around with his forehead to the floor and his bottom in the air. His vocabulary has mushroomed since his first expressions of "ju" and "uh oh" last summer. Now he knows several phrases, including "Where'd it go?", "There it is!", "Whatzat?" "I want that," "I want eat," and "I want shoes." He loves the water and at the slightest suggestion of bath-time, he demands, "I want bath!" while running to the bathroom and trying to take his shirt off. He knows a plethora of words related to his daily routine - up, down, all gone, look!, wadi (for water), turday (for turtle), no, yesh (for yes), come, book, car, poop, baby, and again. His most recent word is "shirt" - but as he cannot pronounce the 'r', the results are very amusing!
If Dad steps out of the apartment for a bit, Sebby nods and affirms, "Coming," knowing that he'll be back soon. When he rides his car down the compound sidewalk and finally sees the park ahead, he shouts, "Yay... whoo hoo!" He can go down every slide by himself and is now learning to appreciate the baby swing. When he finds something of wonder (which happens several times a day), he exclaims "WOW!" And he calls his big brother "Sha."
Josh and I have been learning, rather ironically, to salsa dance during our time here in Riyadh. We get together with a few other friends and have fun, informal lessons plus food. The kids join us, of course, and they love the music too!
Misha has been doing great at school. He is proud of how much Arabic he has learned, and his teachers coo over his excellent accent. He teaches me phrases he has learned at school -- "Mommy, do you know how to say 'Don't hit?'" says Misha before teaching me. He also knows how to say "bad boy" ("ghalad!") and "close your mouth" - of course, he says these are not directed at him. ;) He often comments on the rowdiness of the other kids. Boys especially tend to be quite aggressive. Besides those classroom management words, he knows lots of other vocab (for family, food, the home) but his specialty is singing Arabic songs.
One day after I picked him up from kindergarten and we sat outside the building where I teach, a little girl about his age (the daughter of a security lady) crept ever closer to Misha until she was right next to him. "Ya walad! Kaif hal? Esh ismik?" she asked. (Hey boy! How are you? What's your name?" Misha, focused on eating his treat, mumbled back, "Misha." Eventually a couple of the security ladies joined us on the benches and we had a brief Arabic conversation about his school. I said that Misha knew a lot of songs, and the security woman started to sing a popular kids' song, which Misha joined in singing immediately. She was thrilled. She sang another and Misha sang along. She belted out a third, with the same results. She must have sung 10 songs and Misha knew every one! She was duly impressed - "Mashala!" she kept saying - and so was I. I have recorded Misha's songs onto my iPod, and when I play them for my students (who are always asking about my kids), they exclaim that he sounds just like their little brothers.
Occasionally, Misha even gets homework - he has now moved on to writing not just single letters but actual Arabic words. This page shows his efforts writing the letter "ba" (on the right) and the word "beit" (meaning house, using the three letters ba, ya and ta from right to left). He is always eager to finish his homework for the next day.
Often at home, Misha will say things to Sebby in Arabic. Little things, like "Shuf, shuf! La, hinna!" (Look, look! No, here!)
Sebby is quite used to waving to faces inside the computer. I swear I even heard him say "Grampa" yesterday. Here he is saying "hi" to Grandma and Grandpa in SD, and he likes to chat with Grandma Kate in NM too.
Peekaboo! He is at that cute age where he can hardly contain himself when we ask "Where did Sebby go?"
This is another one of those classic mall haircuts several weeks ago. The red dye took weeks to come out!
Prayer time at the mall means all the men disappear into mosques within the mall and all the women sit around on benches and squeal at how adorable our children are while they wait for the stores to open again.
Panarama Mall has the best indoor play place I have ever seen. All four of us are allowed to enter and prowl through the tunnels, climb up the stairs and go flying down the huge slide. Six levels of entertainment!
An interesting photo: Just another day at the mall. When it's not crowded, we take Misha's scooter with us and he enjoys cruising through the smooth hallways. Many children rollerblade in malls as well.
Like Misha, Sebby has a fondness for drawing and now for painting.
However, painting on paper quickly turns into .... face-painting.
Bubbles for brothers
After a busy day, it's bedtime at last!