Welcome to Texas

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When we made the decision to move to Texas our fellow expats had loads of advice to help us out. Almost everyone that we spoke to had a friend who had lived or was living near Houston, and some had lived there at one point themselves. They had restaurants to recommend, their favorite places to shop, the best beaches to visit, and where to take the kids to explore the state. While everyone had something different to share they all had one thing the same to comment about… the heat!

Living in Doha for the past seven years we know heat. Even when we left the country for six weeks in the summer to escape it we still returned mid August to 52 degree heat and ridiculous humidity which lasted until Halloween.  While the heat and humidity of Houston is sometimes unbearable we deal with it the same way we did in Doha, going outside later in the days and moving from one air conditioned place to another. The one thing that I was not completely prepared for and we were told about was the hurricanes and flooding.

Last week my husband sent me an email about a tropical storm developing off the coast, this was the second time he had sent me an email like this,  his work provides regular updates to employees since they work down near the ocean. This email however accompanied a text saying that I should go to the grocery store and get some supplies, and that people were saying that this was going to be a big one. I dropped the boys off at school as usual that morning and made my way to the grocery store to find that I was not the one person needing to stock up on supplies. The aisle for water was empty except for 2 cases, I grabbed one and helped an elderly man grab the second and put in his cart. I had thankfully grabbed two large bottles of water a few weeks before just in case something like this happened.

I spent the day making sure we had everything we needed if we were not able to leave the house for a few days with the storm. That afternoon I went to the youngest muppets school to help set up for the book fair that would be taking place the following week. When I arrived I found a room full of PTA Moms reluctant to set anything up because of the weather forecast. We sat and visited while they came up with an alternative plan and told me stories about their past hurricane experiences. After hearing about what they went through with Hurricane Ike I began to understand why people were so worried. Two of the women had babies only days old and had to evacuate with small children to safety. There were places without electricity for weeks and some places with out clean water. No one was sure if Harvey was going to cause the same devastation but they were prepared if things went pear shaped.

That evening school was canceled for the following day and my husband was encouraged to stay home from work. So all day Friday we watched and waited for the storm to make landfall. The following days were filled with rain, thunderstorms and wind. We watched as the water rose in the parking lot around our complex, the drains started filling and we watched as parts of Houston and surrounding areas flooded. Monday things stated to not look so good around us, the rain would not let up and the water started rising closer to our apartment. We started worrying that we would need to  evacuate, we were not sure where we would go or if we would be able to get out to any where safe with the roads blocked and the water rising around us. I started packing clothes for a few days and the muppets helped their father move thing on to top shelves in closets just in case the water started coming in. Thankfully friends that my husband works with said that they would come up with big trucks and boats if we needed help out. That night we barely slept, we watched the water levels late in to the night praying that we didn’t wake up to our living room flooding.

Our prayers were answered when we woke to find a new wind blowing through and the water levels descending. We were so lucky, we were safe, still had power and enough supplies to last us a few more days. We watched the news to see people who were not so lucky, houses underwater, valuables and property destroyed, it was heartbreaking. However the amazing thing about this whole disaster is the people of Texas. The volunteers that have come out to help complete strangers, risking their own lives, using their own boats and trucks to rescue people from their homes. Neighbors who we have never met asking if we are ok and if we had enough supplies. People lining up at shelters just wanting to help out and take care of the people affected by the Hurricane.

When we moved to Texas people had a lot of wonderful things to say about this state, one constant thing that everyone said was that the people are so friendly, nice and caring. After going through this experience I would have to agree with them. The people of Texas know how to take care of each other and amidst the devastation we were shown the true colors of humanity this week.

Today the sun is shining and the weather forecast is looking dry, things will start getting back to normal hopefully soon. This was one hell of a welcome to Texas but we are glad to be here and call this place our home! Thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers for our family this week!

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Making The World A Bit Smaller

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It has been a few weeks since we left Doha and we are slowly adjusting to life on the other side of the planet. The Muppets have had to get used to not having as much freedom living here in Texas. Living in a compound in Doha allowed them the freedom of riding their scooters around, playing at the park and the club house and of course an endless amount of other kids to play with. At our apartment in Pearland we are on the ground floor and have a nice little park behind us and a pool. They are allowed to play at the park out back but with the days hot and humid they need to wait until the evening to play. The other night there were a few kids out there playing but the Muppets haven’t made any friends yet. We have tried to keep busy every day by exploring our new surrounding but being together 24/7 takes it’s toll on all of us.

The other day the oldest Muppet was online with his friend from Australia and another friend who is in Canada for the summer, the three of them played for hours talking and laughing like they were in the same room together. I figured I should try and set something up for the other two muppets so today we spent half the morning setting up Skype, iMessage and FaceTime accounts and connecting with friends.

For about an hour our little apartment in Pearland sounded like our Villa in Doha with the oldest and middle Muppet playing Minecraft with a friend in Canada and the youngest Muppet Skyping and playing with his two best girlfriends in Doha. It was a good feeling almost like everyone was here, and that our house was full of friends.

We are missing all of our friends and family that are all over the world at the moment and I am sure that as the weeks wear on and school starts for everyone the texts and phone calls will not be as frequent but it is good to know that right now we are able to make our world a little bit smaller through technology.

The End Of An Era


When we made the decision to move to Texas in late February I knew that leaving Doha was going to be hard on all of us. However I don’t think that anything could have prepared us for the emotional roller coaster the following months and weeks brought. 

The going away parties, get togethers and play dates started in early May. It seemed like every hour of every weekend was  booked, that everyone wanted a little piece of us before we left and to be honest I wanted to hold on to every last piece of Doha that I could. 

When we arrived in Qatar almost seven years ago it was the last day of Ramadan. It was after midnight and as we walked off the plane with our three small children we were greeted by a wall of heat and the soundings of our new life. Over the next few weeks we learnt to navigate the city, how to entertain small children in 52 degree heat and to never leave your house with out a bottle of water. We had to learn to communicate with people who didn’t speak English as their first language and figure out which products in the grocery store resembled those from home for our fussy children. There were days even weeks when I wondered if we had made the right decision moving to the Middle East. 

However the following months and years brought about amazing friendships and we found a sense of community in the school and organizations the muppets were apart of. The day to day struggles that we faced in our first few weeks here became a normal part of everyday life and the muppets adapted to their environment. 

We created our own family which we shared Thanksgivings, Christmas’ and Easters with as well as the occasional Thursday night BBQ. They became our emergency contacts, shoulders to cry on and the people we could count on no matter what. We fell in to a comfortable routine of spending the school year together and saying goodbye for 8 weeks every summer as we all traveled to different countries to visit friends and family. 

Over the past few years we have watched good friends leave and move on to exciting new countries and jobs. Some people we knew that we would see again and others we weren’t sure. But we knew that this was all apart of expat life. 

Yesterday we said goodbye to the place we have called home for the past six years. The walls have been stripped bare and the only thing that remains is the markings my husband made of the growth of the muppets from year to year. 

You realize that once you have downsized your life in to 10 suitcases and a 20 foot sea can that all of the stuff we have accumulated over the years doesn’t really matter and we can probably live without. 

The things that truly matter we will take with us where ever we go. 

Tomorrow we leave the place where my children have spent half their lives. We say goodbye to our life here and move on to something new, exciting and a little scary. 

We have been truly blessed to have had this experience, as a family we have traveled to 8 different countries, had many adventures and made some amazing memories. We are all sad to leave but Doha will always be apart of us, because it has given us so much and we will take a little piece of it where ever we go. Off we go on to new and bigger adventures! 

So long Doha it’s been a slice! 

A Sad Day

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This morning started like any other Monday. There were waffles and eggs for breakfast, laughter and giggles as backpacks were packed and wrestling as Muppets got dressed. The youngest Muppet needed to use the toilet while the other two were brushing their teeth so he went into the guest bathroom down the hall. I was downstairs packing my bag when I heard him yell down that he needed toilet paper and I yelled up to his brothers to give him a hand. The next thing he yelled down changed our regular Monday morning routine. “Mama? Kung Fu Panda isn’t moving!” (For those of you who don’t know Kung Fu Panda is our pet turtle who lives in the guest bathtub) I rolled my eyes and made my way upstairs yelling to the youngest Muppet that he was probably just sleeping and to leave him alone. When I entered the bathroom and looked at him I knew at once that he was NOT sleeping. “Is he dead?” asked the youngest Muppet. I gave him a little poke and he stayed in his starfish position and replied “Yup… I think that he is dead!” At this point the other two Muppet’s had joined us in the bathroom, the shock of the dead turtle in the bathtub quickly turned to tears and then questions about what we were going to do with him.

 

I looked at my watch it was 10 minutes past the time we were suppose to leave, with traffic as bad as it was I was not going to make it to work on time. I made the decision that we would wait for the evening when Daddy was home to figure out what to do with Kung Fu and started to move children from the bathroom downstairs so that we could head to school. The middle Muppet struggled down the stairs and I pulled him aside for a little cuddle. Tears stained his face and he could not seem to find the words to say what he wanted to say. I reminded him that Kung Fu was now in a better place with the 3 small turtles from the souk that didn’t make it, our dog Jack and both sets of grandparents dogs. I assured him that he had all the shrimp he wanted to eat and was probably very happy. The middle muppet nodded and we made our way out the door. The drive to school was unusually quiet and when we got to school the boys went straight to their classes to start their day.

 

When after school activities were done we made our way to the mall, the oldest Muppet had hockey in a few hours and it was easier to have dinner and complete homework there then it was to drive all the way home and fight traffic coming back. As we drove to the mall the questions started coming… “What if Kung Fu Panda is not really dead and he is just paralyzed? Do you think Kung Fu made it to heaven already or does it take a while to get there? What if he turns into a zombie turtle, will he come and eat our brains? Can we keep his skeleton on display? What if Lucy pees on the grave?” After twenty minutes of non stop questioning my head was about to explode. I told the Muppet’s that when we got home we would bury the turtle in the garden and say some nice things about him. I also reassured them that I did not expect any zombie attacking turtles in the near future and that if the dog peed on the grave it would be alright.

 

The rest of the evening went well, and when hockey was finished and we made our way home, it had been a long day already and we still had a turtle funeral to plan. My husband was home before us and we told him the plan to bury our friend in the garden. With shovel in hand he dug a small hole, the Muppet’s sat with me on the front step and the youngest started crying. He didn’t want to see his turtle buried, I cuddled him on my lap and asked him if he wanted to pick some flowers from our plants to put on his grave. The youngest shook his head “No” and the other two Muppet’s helped me gather flowers. When Kung Fu was in the ground we walked together into the back yard, we watched as my husband piled the final dump of dirt on the grave. I placed a brick down to serve as the headstone and as tears were starting to flow I began saying my favorite thing about our pet turtle. I placed the flowers on his grave and asked the Muppet’s if they wanted to say anything. To my surprise the youngest stepped forward first, “You were the best pet turtle ever” he choked out between tears “And I will miss you.” I pulled him in close along with the middle Muppet who was to teary to speak. The oldest was next to say his piece and place his flower on the grave and then my husband said the final words. Together we walked into the house laughing about all of the crazy places he used hide and scare us, how fast he could move around the house when he wanted to and the time he bit the middle Muppet.

 

We tucked the Muppet’s in to bed giving extra hugs and kisses a wiping away stray tears, everyone was exhausted and I hoped they would fall asleep quickly. About ten minutes later my husband and I heard the door open from the kids room, we both knew it would be the middle Muppet. He came downstairs and crawled into his dad’s lap. “I can’t think of anything good or happy to help me sleep” he said sadly. His dad started to tell him to think about all the fun times we had with Kung Fu Panda but I knew that this was only going to make him sadder. “Have you tried thinking about unicorns who fart rainbows?” I asked smiling. A little giggle escaped his mouth, “No” he said “And I don’t think that will help” he pouted. I gave him a few more funny idea’s as we walked back up the stairs and as I tucked him in he said “I will think about unicorns who fart rainbows bouncing on a bouncy castle with Kung Fu.” I smiled at him and told him that I was sure Kung Fu would love to play on a bouncy castle with a unicorn and kissed him goodnight.

 

Today we lost a good turtle, it was a pet that I never thought we would ever have and probably won’t ever have again. He brought a lot of joy and laughter to our lives for the past 5 years and he will be greatly missed. Godspeed Kung Fu Panda.

Tom Girl

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The Muppets sat at the dinner table tonight munching on pizza and chatting about their days. The middle Muppet had enjoyed his swimming day in PE, the youngest had a new bruise forming on his knee to share and the oldest was explaining what he had to do for homework.

We started talking about some of the High School and Middle School teams competing in a tournament at the school. The oldest was telling us that his teachers husband coached the basket ball, and that our Associate Principals wife was the assistant coach. The middle Muppet pipped in “Mrs. D is good at sports she is a Tom Girl.” His comment caught me off guard since I had never really used that term before and I asked him why he thought she was a Tom Girl. He smiled at me “Well mum, she is really, really good at sports and stuff.” I thought for a moment “What else makes you a Tom Girl?” I asked “Would Mummy be considered a Tom Girl?” The middle guy burst in to giggles “No Mum, you are not at all a Tom Girl, you don’t like sports and not to be rude but you like to sit on the couch a lot!” The other two Muppets joined in the giggle fest “Also Tom Girls don’t like floofy things or pink stuff” the Middle guy added.  “You know” began the oldest Muppet “Mum used to play cricket or base ball… or something… um Tee-Ball when she she was a kid, so she likes to play sports”

I smiled at the oldest guy, there was no point in trying to impress him at this point. “You know what Mummy’s favorite part about Tee-Ball was?” I asked. All three Muppets shrugged their shoulders. I told them that I liked the fact that our team was named the Flamingos and that our jerseys had pink on them. The middle Muppet laughed “So I was right!” he declared. “You are not a Tom Girl” I shook my head “Most defiantly not!”

I told them that I like things that are sparkly, fluffy and floofy, things that are pink and purple and smell nice. I am terrible at sports, completely uncoordinated and I don’t like getting dirty. All three Muppets were in a fit of giggles at this point, I told them that God had given me little boys so that I could learn to love sports, bugs, dinosaurs, mud and farts. Every day the Muppets surprise me with some strange fact about animals, bring me presents of bits of glass and rocks and amaze me with just how dirty they can get. Our lives are never dull and I wouldn’t trade my stinky hockey playing boys for all the tutus and tiara’s in the world.