September 2, 2013

And then we.... realized we've lived in Saudi Arabia for a year.

Our last post announcing our pregnancy and IVF adventures elicited so many responses, readers, and reposts that we first just wanted to say... um, thanks!  Thanks for reading and sharing and please forgive the number of times you had to read the word sperm.  Oops... Said it again.  Sorry.  


So how do you follow up your most read blog post of all time?  (Andrew's Note: Most read, blah blah blah.  The most visited post, however, is "All the Kilted Wonder We Can Stand", a magnificent gem of a blog post)  I have no idea how to follow it up--hence the lack of writing recently (I'm intimidated by my own blog), but in our defense, we have been galavanting the globe eating for 3.  So lets start with the spawn.  She's probably why you clicked on this post, so let's get to it.  

She's a girl.  We had "it" checked by 3 different doctors (seriously) just 'cause I'm a control freak, and really wanted to expose my brilliantly white belly to strangers.  And we've come to the realization that we should probably stop calling her 'little bean' as she's grown quite a bit now at 6 months.  'Little-ear-of-corn' just doesn't have the same ring, nor does 'little mid-western-crop-found-in-all-processed-food also fed-to-cattle-instead-of-grass'.  Maybe we'll stick with 'little bean'.  She never stops moving and her current favorite activity is to bounce on my bladder with all 1.7 lbs of her body weight.  However...this post isn't about our pregnancy so I'll save the juicy stuff 
(i.e. 'Ma'am, they don't make bras in your size') for next time.  Get excited.  
And don't stop reading.  Google tells me.

Bow Tie and Bump.
Thanks to!
We actually announced and posted that last blog entry while I was hospitalized for yet another 1st trimester complication.  I went in at 12 or so weeks with lots of weird pain down below.  (There wasn't a disclaimer on the top of this entry stating to beware of 'female anatomy references' so I can't define various body parts in this post...Use your imagination.  No wait-- don't.).  My wonderful high-risk preggo doctor put me through every machine the hospital owned, but to no avail.  I also peed into so many small plastic containers that I think my urine might be famous.  All of this resulted in preggo doc telling me that it might be early signs of a miscarriage.  Literally JUST as we had just posted that blog post announcing pregnancy.  Not the best moment of the pregnancy.  Lots of crying and throwing of hospital jello.  Then he decides to send in urology to talk with me.  An old, old Middle Eastern doctor ambles in and smiled a big smile that made me want to ditch my IV port and give him a hug.  He says, ....and I need you to hear this with a thick Southern accent because that's a nice way to hear something embarrassing:

"Hoonnnyyyy.... yew naeeedd taaa peeeeee more."  

(Except it was said in a very nice/slightly harsh Arabic accent, but go with the Southern one, it's the way I hear it in my mind.)  Urology doc tells me that my pre-pregnancy peeing frequency needs to quadruple now that 'little mid western crop' is digging in.  

"Evvverrrrryyy hour, sweeethearrrrrt.  Peeeee evvvverrrraaaryyy hour."  

And darned that southern/arabic guy, he was right.  
Pain - stopped.  
Bladder - empty. 
Crisis - averted.  
Face - red.
Jello - wasted.
(She was pretty mad about the Jello, actually)

Pregnancy, evidently, leaves you with little control over much in your life.  (Not having control over things is Allison's FAVORITE.)  It's so similar to the past year in Saudi Arabia that it's almost comical.  Almost.  Adaptation, flexibility and the attitude that "this is an adventure(!?!)" have been key to surviving our first year in Saudi and first 6 months of pregnancy.  However, after 9 months of pregnancy, you get a lifetime's worth of cuteness, responsibility and discussion about your child's poop.  

After a year of living in Saudi, well... here's the take-away as we see it after one year in the Kingdom. 

I've taken the liberty of dividing our impressions after a year into 3 categories:
The Good, The Bad and the What the *&^*??  

You're welcome.

The "Good" i.e.: (Why-Isn't-Every-Job-Like-This?) impressions:

1.  Family Time

I get to see this guy a lot.  So much so that he's probably sick of hearing that I need to go pee, again.  Regardless, he's cute and recently has taken bow tie wearing to new levels of awesomeness.  Ear of corn is one lucky bean.  We are still in awe of the husband-comes-home-for-lunch-everyday thing.  And it's also pretty grand for him to not have a job with night expectations.  Which means he cooks fab-o dinners most nights... while I lounge on the couch, eat bon-bons and grow a human zucchini.    
Someone is emulating his daddy.  (I LOVE THIS PICTUREEEEEE)

I made this one!!!  
2.  Travel
Yeaaaahhh.... It's called the 'Middle' East for a reason, kids.  Thailand is 6 hours away, as is London.  You do the math.  And while Aramco's vacation day policies take a PhD to understand, we have traveled to 8 countries this year alone, leaving us with a dire need for more coffee mug space in our cabinets.  Expat problems?  Yes.  Does this make us want to stay here for many more years than we originally planned?  Yes.

Check check and check.  

London/York!  (Lork.) 

I have no idea where this is.


3. Perks (Also referred to as the "Golden Handcuffs" :-)
Aramco knows that the "Bad Things" list below this one exists.  Sometimes its just darned hard living out of your comfort zone, no matter how adventurous you might consider yourself.  And they make it worth your while, as you put up with some less-than-savory 'adventure'.  (And we're not even talking about something crazy, like you got mugged or shot at or your car was stolen.  Stuff like that never happens.  It's mostly every day differences - a shopping trip sometimes consists of going to 9 different places to get everything you need, actually finding 4 of those things, and getting stuck outside during prayer time twice, and coming home to find that the road to get to your house is closed for maintenance for the next 18 months.)  All that to say, we had started working towards being Dave Ramsey debt-free about 3 years ago and the move to the Middle East put us in the black for good.  This is a VERY GOOD thing and we are really, REALLY grateful.  

4.  Little Papaya
(Andrew says my penchant for referring to our child as various legumes and fruit is confusing. 

4A.  Little-Girl-That-Owns-A-Stroller-More-Expensive-Than-Our-Golf cart:
Obviously we covered the graphic details in the last post. (Ew.) But can I say that probably the best and worst thing that happened to us this year was being told we could never have kids naturally, and then with some help from lots of people, entirely too many needles and prayer, we have a baby girl on the way in December.  I sit here and wonder often if I had not gone thorough what went on the past few months if I would be as grateful for this pregnancy?  Probably not.  But....I can honestly say that I would do it again, and I am thankful to God for providing for us and for putting this obstacle in our lives.  We are grateful for what we have been given and for what this trial has taught us.  

Here she is at 3 days old!   (She looks like you.)
And.. she grew.   Cute little eggplant.  (Knock it off!)

The "Bad" ie: Oh-This-Kind-Of-Sucks moments:

1.  Camp/Night life...............or lack thereof-
When we came back home this summer we had a list of around 42 places we wanted to eat at while in Houston.  We went to 45.  And while you could chalk it up to 'eating for 3', it really was our way of making up for lack of a night life or restaurants.  Imagine spending a year of your life without ever eating out for dinner except for when you go on vaca.  This is what its like to live in Ras Tanura.  This has been a BIG adjustment for Andrew and me.  We are foodies, we loved finding the top foodie places in Houston.  And we like eating.  Mostly that.  Moving to Saudi and pretty much never having anything to do at nights except to hang out with each other, friends, or at home is sometimes mind-numbing.    
This is the nightly Andrew-cooks-WonTon-watches routine.
2.  Cultural adjustments
Getting used to a culture that isn't in a hurry to do anything or do anything efficiently might sound like some kind of special made hell for me and it really has taken a lot to get used to.  For example, today it was so humid and hot that our front door refused to open, so husband kicked it and it cracked.  I called maintenance.  (Who is in no hurry to come fix it.)

Me:  I need someone out here to fix our door, it's stuck and has a huge crack down because husband kicked it repeatedly to make it look worse than it actually is so that you'll come out and fix it sooner.  
(I didn't say that last part...but there was a crack)
Maintenance: Okay madam, so what is the problem?
Me:  ..... my door is stuck and cracked.
Maintenance:  Yes?
Me:  It's cracked.  And stuck.
Maintenance:  Yes.  
Me:  (??!!)
Me:  I need it fixed... please?
Maintenance:  So your door is causing problems?
Me:  Yes.
Maintenance:  Can you describe the exact problem?
Me:  ***planting head into crack of door***
Me:  Yes.  My door won't work.
Maintenance:  Oh, okay madam.  I can schedule maintenance to come out next week at the end of the week.
Me:  Right.
Me:  Um.  I can't get inside my house.  My door is stuck.  Also, it has a huge crack.
Maintenance: So you need an emergency request?
Me:  Yes!!!
Maintenance:  Okay madam, I have scheduled them to come today, Inshah'alla.
("Inshah'alla" means "If God wills it" and is a phrase attached to many promises that frustrates the Western population to no end because there are no definite timelines in any commitments) Back to the story....
Me: What time today?
Maintenance:  Inshah'alla, 45 minutes.  
Me:  No no... no Inshah'alla 45 minutes.  45 minutes exactly.
Maintenance:  Okay madam, 45 minutes Inshah'alla.
Me:  ***sigh***

Not our front door.
This was the day I woke up to a large hole in our front yard with no explanation.
Having been here a few months, this didn't phase me.
3.  It's freaking humid here.
But really.  I thought the heat was going to be our big issue.  It's the humidity.  Andrew describes it as like microwaving a wet pillow and plunging your head in it.  The good news is that it gets better around November through April.  But the rest of the time we keep to our houses like Won Ton to his food bowl.  

Husband and our house... slowly melting in glasses fog.

(4.  This is dumb, but shopping carts without fixed wheels!
The shopping carts here take entirely too much fine wrist control.  They move freely in any direction, which you might think makes them really maneuverable, but actually makes them impossible to control.    Again, #expatproblems.....or maybe #firstworldproblems, I don't know which.)

The 'What the *&^*....???!":
Rather than describe stuff, I'll just post some Instagram gems from the past 12 months.  By the way, you should follow us on Instagram (aredmon1 and andrewtheredmon).  It's a daily snapshot into Saudi-quirks and another way I avoid my guilt from not blogging.  (Don't do it!  It'll make her blog more! :-)

Barbie looks a little different over here.  These ones are a little scandalous, their lips are showing.

What... you don't drive a golf cart to work?
Um... what?  We drive to Bahrain on this road all the time.  

Yep... does your mall have this?  Dubai kids, Dubai.

Those aren't stones.
Just your average student field trips.

George Lucas got inspired for Star Wars by abayas.

Sandstorms make getting to work....problematic.  (Not to mention breathing.)

So, there you have it.  We'll have to go back and read through our first few posts again and correct all the silly things that we thought and impressions we had, but that's kind of the fun of it.  This place keeps you guessing all the time, and your "Goods" can easily turn into "Bads" and then to "What the *&%$s" and then back again!  Time for another year in the desert - I hope it's just as good, but I wouldn't mind it being a little less eventful :-)


  1. I have missed these! I want to know if the red and green cactus in the yard construction photo was allowed to stay! :)

  2. Loved it as usual! Love you two! Mom

  3. Can't believe you're only three months away from Little Mango's arrival! Glad y'all are back on the blog, what a first year!