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.

The Hockey Tournament

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Hockey has become a normal part of life in the Wilson household. We are at practices or games four times a week and I have become incredibly fast at putting equipment on Muppets and tying skates. This past weekend the middle Muppets team hosted a tournament for children under 9. Teams from Saudi, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai came to Doha to compete. This is the second tournament that we have been apart of since joining hockey our first one was with the oldest Muppet in Dubai and since our teams got completely slaughtered in the last one I didn’t really have high expectations for the middle guys team.

We arrived at the rink and we were given our “special passes” to enter the dressing room area. The middle guy was pretty pumped that he was the only one out of his brothers that had one of these passes. The other two Muppets had to sit in the stands while the players got dressed. The teams first game went well and even though we lost 4-0 the kids played hard and had fun. Their next game was in a few hours and I took the kids home for a rest and a snack. I think all of us parents pumped their kids full of sugar because the second game they were on fire and won the game. It was so great to see the middle Muppet smiling from ear to ear as he skated off the ice with his team.

The next morning we had a game bright and early, the game was awesome and at one point our team was winning 5-0. The team they were playing managed to come back and tie the game and in the end we didn’t know if we would be playing for Gold or Bronze. We waiting patiently while the other teams played and by noon we found out the middle Muppets team would be playing in the gold medal game! The locker room was vibrating with excitement before the final game. The middle Muppet smiled at me as I tied up his skates “You know what Mum?” he whispered “Even if we loose this game we still get second place, and we get a medal… all of us get one!” his little eyes sparkled with excitement and he grabbed his stick and made his way on to the ice with his team.

The last game was a nail biter, we scored the first goal and shortly after they scored. For the longest time it was a tied game with so many shots on both teams goals I was feeling the stress for both goalies. Near the end of the game the other team scored 3 goals and we lost 4-1 but man did those kids play hard. The whole rink cheered as medals were handed out to both teams and team pictures were taken. There were no disappointed faces on any of the players, they wore their medals with pride and all chatted happily about the game as they got undressed. When cheers for the coaches were given and goodbyes were said we found the other two Muppets and went for celebratory ice cream.

The four of us sat in the food court a family whos son played on the other team came and sat at the table beside us. The little boy and the middle Muppet acknowledged each other with a slight nod. The middle Muppet smiled at him “Good game” he said “I think the best part is the ice cream afterwards” The other boy laughed and agreed “You guys were really good” he said as he shook the middle guys hand. We sat and chatted with the family for a few more minutes and wished them safe travels. As we made our way to the car the middle guy gave me a big hug and said “Thanks for giving up your weekend to bring me to the hockey tournament, I know that it is a lot of work for you and I am so happy that I got to play” I squeezed him back my heart swelling with pride, it had been a crazy busy weekend and we had to start the week with not much of a break but it was worth it to see him enjoy himself and appreciate being there.

This will not be the last hockey tournament for the middle guy but I am so glad that his first experience was such a good one, even if the best part was the ice cream!

A Bulgarian Christmas 

  
We landed in a familiar airport with friends the day after we were all off for school holidays. It was the busiest I had ever seen the small terminal and as we walked out to grab a taxi the cool crisp air and smell of the city greeted us. Instead of heading to our apartment in Bansko right away we thought we would spend a few days exploring the city of Sofia. We have flown in to the city twice already but never took the time to see what it was all about. Traveling with two other families from Doha gave us an excuse to see some new sights. 
The muppets were happy to explore the city, spend some time at a German Christmas market and of course watch the new Star Wars movie. Everywhere we walked there were twinkling Christmas lights and even through there was no snow in the forecast the need for hats and mittens made it feel very wintery. 
We left our friends in the capital city for an extra day and the Wilson Family made their way to Bansko. After a long drive through the pretty mountains and only getting lost once we pulled up to one of our favourite stores. This shop is a mix between IKEA, Costco and a liquor store. The muppets enthusiastically entered the shop remembering all of the great things that we had found there the year before. The walls were stocked with Christmas decorations, winter jackets, twinkling lights and toys! We had no trouble filling the cart with goodies, sausage, beer and even a little Christmas tree. Once our little car was filled to the brim we started on the last leg of our journey and pulled in to our apartment complex in record time. 
Our little apartment was just as we left it and the muppets were quick to claim beds and to head outside to play in the court yard. We spend the evenings rattling in and just enjoying being in our place, it is the only home we have that is truly ours at the moment. The next morning everyone was up bright and early. The muppets were excited to head in and explore the town, plus all three of them needed new snow suits. We all walked through the familiar cobble stone streets of the town, popping in and out of shops. The smell of burning wood from all of the houses was a consistent smell all over town and the sunshine made it a lovely day to be outside. 
The next few days we were joined by our friends from Doha and Canada and we kept busy. The muppets skated, skied, enjoyed lots of local foods and played with friends. Our Christmas Day was quieter than most we have had in the past but we enjoyed the family time and the big group dinner we did on Christmas Night. 
Since moving overseas we have had Christmas’ in Doha, Cyprus, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and now Bansko. Each one has had its great moments and made many amazing memories but one thing remains constant. The five of us have been together, happy and healthy (other than a few runny noses) and I am grateful for that. This time of year we miss our family and friends back home like crazy and thankfully we have friends around us who make it a little easier to be away from them at Christmas. 
We hope that this holiday season has brought you all much love and happiness. 
Merry Christmas from the Four frogs and this Princess