Saturday, October 9, 2010

My Birthday

Thank you sooooo much for all the sweet and cool cards and wishes!  Casey and the girls did everything to make sure my day was perfect and it was, even despite our second plumbing leak...

The pipes installed here are evidently not large enough and the workers disposed of items like concrete, plastic bags, and T-shirts in them while building the houses.  This is baffling to me, but true.  Apparently the first contrator has been dismissed and the new houses have a different contractor.  We have had two overflows downstairs so far.  Other families have the same and say it will get less as time goes on.  After the first one we were asked if our kids "put T-shirts down the toilet?"  Ummmm, noooooo.  A huge mound of sand and other gunk was pulled out with this overflow.  The second overflow happened on the morning of my birthday and after this one we were told not to flush toilet paper down the toilet.  Okay everyone, we are not flushing TP anymore.  I much prefer taking out a plastic bag than having to deal with overflows.  The workers say it is only washing machine water, but the smell tells us otherwise.  They are actually quite prompt in responding to our calls for overflow intervention and we get a free cleaning after the event. 

Since the fourth we have not had another overflow (knock on wood).  Theresa is excellent at checking toilets and declaring whether or not Marcella put the TP in the toilet or the trash.  She also is great at reporting that she always puts it in the trash.  Marcella is having difficulty remembering this new procedure (can you blame her?) and likes to tell us that Eben keeps putting TP in the toilet when she is in there....

Anyways, here are birthday pics sans any overflow pics.

The girls made me an adorable rolling pin and cookie sheet with cookies!  I loved it.  I also got zinnia seeds which we will be planting soon.  My sister, Mary has the best luck with these and if we are successful in our planting we hope to bring people we vist or know a bouquet, just as she does in Texas. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

We're Here!!!

Wow, and that's about all we can say...Wow.  How do we begin to describe our experiences here?  Our move has encompassed so much, it is hard to organize one's thoughts now that I am finally beginning my blog.  The purpose of my blog is to provide a written record of our adventure for family, friends, and ourselves.  After we are done here I plan to "publish" these thoughts and pictures into a book for us to remember this all by. 

I'll begin with the flight.  We left Austin at 11:30am on Sunday, Sept. 26th.  Casey's brother, Cody, kindly dropped us off at the airport and we made it through the checkpoints without any problems.  Eben was the only one who got most disturbed during this first flight to Washington D.C.  The problem was he wanted his own seat, but that was not possible.  Eventually he fell asleep in the back of the plane with me.  Eleanor napped in Daddy's arms and Marcella and Theresa enjoyed PBJs and goldfish.  In DC we had about an hour and a half before boarding the big jet to Saudi so we spent that time being awed by other planes and enjoying a pricey milkshake or two. 

We were afraid at first that the next flight was going to be disastrous but this was not the case.  In fact we could not have asked for better behaved children!  Eben was a little anxious at first, during take off, but settled right down once we were in ther air.  Our first flight had been crowded and we had flown coach.  This flight we were in Business and what a difference!  The seats recline all the way, we got warm, moist towelettes, dates, tea, and our very own baby care set and travel bags.  These latter two items provided our girls and twins with much to do.  We really did not use anything we had brought on board "to do" other than books and toy cars.  The trip was just not that eventful.  Our dinner was served on china, we could choose our own movies and games to play, and had plenty of room to get up and stretch.  After about three hours of flying, the kiddos were ready to sleep and sleep they did.  Eben was graciously given an extra seat to sleep in while Eleanor was given her own "plane crib."  An airplane crib is a little collapsable box with a pillow and blanket.  She slept like a doll with her little popo up in the air.  I could kick myself for not taking a picture but hopefully she will sleep in one again at Christmas. :)
We made it through customs no problem in Jeddah and then were driven to Kaust and by 2:30 we were in our new home!  During the drive to Kaust we actually saw a herd of camels and unbelievably- lots of sand!  During a game of "I Spy" Theresa spied, you guessed it, something brown!  Here we are on our way to Kaust.

Our first two nights in Kaust were actually quite fun.  We had some great "midnight parties" due to jet lag.  The kids went down both nights at about eight and each night we were greeted by first Eleanor's screams and then Eben's, followed by curious, and wide awake sisters!  After an hour of trying to get everyone 6 and under to understand it was not dinner time, we resigned ourselves to a few hours of fun: popcorn, chocolate milk, music, and games.  We finally all retired "for the night" at about 3:00 and got to sleep till around ten!  When's the last time you got to sleep till 10:00?????
Our sea shipment still has not arrived and is not due to arrive till next week or later.  We entertain ourselves with swimming, school (more about this later) and toys from a fellow Austin coworker, Kelly and her daughter Jasmine.  These two have been so helpful.  Kelly worked with Casey at Sematech and has been here for about a month.  She is very knowledgable with regards to bus routes, shopping, and events.  They chaparoned our first beach trip:

The beach is adjacent to a coral reef actually.  We are only allowed to swim in the central part to help preserve the coral but in the future we would like to take at least Marcella out to snorkel in the coral.  There were no real spectacular shells to be found, but we did find a teeny tiny hermit crab and some neat coral pieces:
Kaust provides these great umbrellas and beach chairs; essential due to the blaring sun.  All the sand has been brought in and another swim beach will be opening within the year.  This beach was about a ten minute bus ride from our house and is supposed to be more of a water sport beach.  The new beach is supposed to be more "family oriented."

Bus ride to the beach:
I'll end today's entry with a few thoughts on food.....The store here is called Tamini.  The girls are so cute and keep calling it HEB.  It is actually about a quarter of the size of HEB.  Some items like spices, are super cheap.  Others like Pepperidge Farm are outrageous.  It is real random in what it provides..the saying here is "you never know."  One week they will have something, like goldfish, and then it's gone, poof, not to be seen for days.  Overall, the store provides all the essentials and we are able to make do.  I actually am enjoying not having everything at my fingertips.  It makes us more creative.

Our first trip there was completely crazy.  We are much better at it now though.  We went as a whole family and actually filled two carts being our first trip.  We thought we would be able to push the carts home and return them later.....well SA does not have the ADA Act.  There we were with four kids, two in a double stroller, and two shopping carts, full.  So funny.  It is pretty much impossible to push the carts around and even the stroller due to all the curbs.  Many people actually do take the carts home, but most of these live closer to Tamini than us.  We live almost a mile a way and of course, it's 110 in the shade here!
It's hard to see, but this is us returning the carts later that night.  So much fun and a little bit cooler.