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! 

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Creating With Muppets

IMG_0054When the Muppets were much smaller I had dreamt of doing arts and crafts with them regularly on weekend mornings. One morning I decided that it would be a great day to start. The weather outside was blistering hot and we had hours to kill before it was time to go to the pool. I remember I excitedly pulled out a roll of white paper and taped it to the kitchen table. I laid out the paints, brushes and water and invited the Muppets in to create. Well they created all right, one big giant mess! In the end we had paint everywhere, the paper had gotten ripped in a fight between two of the Muppets and at least one was sobbing uncontrollably. From that point on I decided that group projects were out of the question and we would stick to individual creating if we ever decided to go down this road again.

This week we have been off for Eid break, the Muppets have enjoyed building lego, skating lounging around the house and visiting with friends. Yesterday as the middle guy and I were looking at Halloween costume ideas online we came across a recipe to make dinosaur fossils. Now anyone who knows the middle Muppet knows that he is a dinosaur expert, his first word was Stygimoloch and he knew the names of at least 20 dinosaurs by the time he was two and a half. The middle boys was more than excited at the prospect of making our own dinosaur fossils and decided that today would be the day that we made them.

I called all three Muppets in to the kitchen to help me prepare the fossil mixture. They measured out flour, salt and water then took turns mixing until it was time for mummy to take over. We divided the dough in to three equal parts and they got to creating. The baking sheet was quickly filled with raptor claws, T-Rex teeth and dinosaur eggs. The youngest Muppet suddenly jumped up from his chair and saying he had a great idea ran upstairs. A few moments later he returned with his giant T-Rex, he had the idea to make a foot print fossil and the other two Muppets quickly caught on and ran to get more dinosaurs. An hour of fossil making fun later we put two baking sheets full of “bones” in to the oven to bake. The middle Muppet waited at the table watching me clean up, after about 10 minutes he asked how much longer will it take Mummy?” I told him that it would be at least 3 hours and then we would have to let them cool. His face dropped but he quickly turned his mood around and decided that this afternoon would be a great time to dig for fossils.

So while the fossils cook, my future paleontologists discuss where dinosaur bones were found and dream about discovering a new dinosaur some day. Creating with the Muppets now is a lot easier than it used to be. Not only have we killed a few hours on a hot Friday but they are super excited to see the finished project and it has inspired them to learn more about something they all love.

The Olden Days

  
We woke up yesterday morning to another rainy day. Since returning from the lake a few days ago the weather has been a bit wonky. The muppets were happy to see the rain falling and puddles forming on the roads however they were less impressed with the thunder and lighting storms, hail and cold temperatures that accompanied it. My mother and I looked at the forecast for the rest of the week and with sunshine predicted for the next day we decided that we needed to do something outdoors for our last full day in Canada. 
Tomorrow we will start our journey back to the heat, humidity and sand. The muppets had suggested going swimming at the lake, the water park or the Calgary Zoo. I reminded them that they had been swimming in a lake for two weeks straight and that when we get back to Doha that swimming would be the only activity we will be able to do outside for some time. I suggested that we did something new that we had not done in Calgary before and brought up Heritage Park. It was a place that I had only brought the muppets to once when they had turned the train there in to Thomas the Tank Engine and I am pretty sure there were only two of them at that point. I told the boys about the different things that were there and how we would be able to see how people lived years ago. 
The three muppets were very curious about what types of things they would see at Heritage Park. I hadn’t been there in years but told them about the steam engine that they could ride on as well as a candy shop they could visit. The oldest muppet thought it sounded interesting and the middle muppet agreed stating that riding on a train and going to a candy shop sounded like the perfect day. We continued to talk about the things I remembered from Heritage Park. I told the muppets about the bakery, the school house and that there was a house there that people thought was haunted. “Is the house really haunted Mum or are you just joking?” asked the middle muppet. I told him that people had seen lights in the third level of the house even though there was no electricity in the house. That their had been sightings of shadows in the windows, and there had even been a few people who had seen a woman in a flowered dress holding a child in her arms in one of the rooms but when they looked back she was no where to be found. The muppets sat in silence for a minute then the oldest boy spoke, “None of that will happen when we are there right Mum?” I assured him that ghosts would not bother him if he didn’t want to bothered, and that they were stories that other people had told and may not be true. 
The next day we made our way to Heritage Park, the muppets were super excited and each rambled on about what they wanted to see first. The oldest wanted to ride the train, the youngest wanted to find the haunted house and the middle guy of course wanted the candy shop. We made our way through the park enjoying the sights our tour guide the youngest muppet pointed out everything that he saw from “the olden days” He pointed out a box by the washroom. “Look mummy that is where you could buy a news paper in the olden days!” I giggled and told him that it was actually something that they used today to sell newspapers and that little boys used to sell newspapers on the side of the road back then. He laughed and assured me that they also used it in the olden days as well. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the Park. The muppets learned how people used to ground wheat in to flour, saw an old school house, bought cookies at the bakery and decided that the “old fashioned” dentist was scarier than the dentist that they go to today. Throughout the whole afternoon the three of them prodded me with questions about the “haunted house” on the park. The oldest had come up with the idea that people had played a trick and that there were no such things as ghosts. The middle guy was certain that he was going to see a shadow when we got there and the youngest guy had not stopped talking about the ghost woman in the house. As we walked towards the Prince House I told the boys that they were going to be disappointed with the lack of huntedness the house was going to have. They all told me that they didn’t care and just wanted to see it so we made our way up the sidewalk to the house. 

Cautiously the three muppets stepped inside. They looked in each of the rooms on the main level and then decided to make their way to the second level. We looked in each of the rooms the three of them stopped in front of the nursery door. “This is where they saw the ghost woman” the youngest said, they stood completely silent. I broke the silence by tickling the middle muppet and saying “BOO!” All three muppets jumped, and the middle guy pushed me “Why would you do that Mum!” He yelled “You shouldn’t scare someone in a hunted house!” I laughed and apologized for scaring him and we walked down the stairs together. 
As we were walking out the front door the youngest muppet shouted “Where did the hat go!?” I looked at him confused. “There was a hat hanging on the hook when we came in, and now it is gone…” he explained as he pointed to the hooks by the front entrance. The middle muppet backed up his story saying that he had noticed the hat as well. “I think she took it” said the youngest. “Who?” I asked still not sure what he was talking about. “The lady in the flower dress mum, I am sure she took the hat!” He said completely sure of himself. We walked out of the house the youngest still jabbering away about the ghost woman. “That is kinda freaky” the middle guy said “It is kinda fun being a little scared like that, that house is totally haunted!” 
After a trip to the candy shop the five of us made our way back to the start of the park. The oldest walked ahead with his grandmother and the two younger guys walked with me. They were both telling me scary stories that their friends had shared with them. “This was a great day” the youngest muppet said as he shoved another piece of candy in his mouth. I agreed that it was a great way to spend our last day in Canada. “Maybe next year Mum we can come back and say hi to the ghost lady” the youngest guy said “And visit the candy shop again too” he smiled. 
I am pretty sure that the hat in the house was taken by some one working at the park but when the muppets tell their story it will be the ghost lady in the flower dress that took it. Tomorrow we head back to our other home, back to the heat, routine and daddy. We all have mixed feelings about leaving this year but have lots of fun memories from a wonderful summer with friends and family. And now the muppets have a ghost story to share with their friends. 

The Heron

  
We sat on the beach watching the muppets play light sabre fighting yesterday. The three of them were completely consumed by their game. My husband pointed out a heron on the walk way of the dock he was just sitting there as people passed by. Both of us thought that this was strange behaviour for a wild bird, so he called the boys in and we decided to investigate.

The five of us walked slowly up on to the dock and stood a few feet from the great bird. We could see quite clearly that he had a broken leg. He limped around nervously and the kids backed away a little bit. I suggested we call the fish and wildlife office in the area and see if there was anything that they could do to help. As I looked up the phone number a few more people gathered on the dock. One of the girls was a vet and said that there was really nothing that we could do and that the bird would probably die in the wild. The middle muppet looked up at me with his big brown eyes “There has to be something that we can do to help” I looked at my husband and both of us knew that the vet was most likely right. More people gathered on the dock and a few of them wanted to pass by to get down to their boats. As people passed by the heron moved closer to the edge of the dock. Suddenly he spread his wings and took off and made his way over to the marshy waters near the opening of the river. The middle muppet smiled at me “It looks like he might be ok mummy” he said. My husband and I both shrugged and hoped that the middle guy was right.

This morning as we sat on the deck having coffee and visiting with a friend the heron flew by. I could see his little leg flapping below him and pointed it out to my husband. We proceeded to tell our friend about the experience the day before. She told us that the heron was at her place a couple lake communities down from ours a few days ago and that they had also tried to call the fish and wildlife people to rescue it. By the time they arrived the bird had flown away, they also had said the heron would not likely survive in the wild. I told the muppets after dinner last night that we spotted the heron that morning flying. The middle muppet had a big smile on his face. “That is one strong bird Mummy, I think that he might survive and heal all on his own!” I smiled and said “You never know animals learn to adapt to their environment all the time!” We are out here for a few more weeks and we will keep our eyes watching for our heron friend and hope that the middle guy is right. 

The Lake 

     

Our morning did not start off well, the muppets had been up late the night before and up early because they were excited to go to the lake. With in 20 minutes of being awake the fights started. I dragged the bags out to my parents garage and called a family meeting. I explained to the three of them how the day was going to go. We had a six hour drive ahead of us and that was if traffic was in our favour. I told them that I did not want to hear them ask if we were their yet and that there would be no whining or fighting today. We would eat when we stopped and pee when there was a place to pee. The three of them who are used to my long trip speeches  nodded and agreed to my terms. We all piled in to our little rental car as the rain completely soaked us and the wind howled. The four of us were all shivering as we pulled out of the drive way. Our Alberta Summer had changes from a balmy 25 degrees to a dreadful 5 degrees, needless to say our bodies were in shock. 
The drive out was uneventful and long, for  the most part the muppets followed my rules. However the last few hours of travel the excitement kicked in and as we turned on to the road to the lake they were uncontrollable. We pulled up to our trailer and the boys piled out of the car. The youngest muppet went straight to the trailer wanting to check inside and make sure his bed was still there. The three of them joined my parents down at the beach and started a game of frisbee. A few minutes later the youngest and middle muppet came in to the trailer. “We want to go to the park, and ride our bikes and go for a boat ride” the youngest said as he grabbed his light sabre. I told him that he would have time to do all of those things but we needed to unpack first. Him and his brother decided to play at the park and I went back to unpacking. 
I joined the family down on the beach a short time later.  The oldest muppet was playing with his aunt and uncle and the other two joined them in a game of catch. The youngest and the middle guy soon got bored of the game and decided to play in the sand. Buckets and shovels were brought down and soon the oldest joined in the fun. It didn’t take them long to be knee deep in the water and when the oldest got the ok from me that they could get wet the started filling buckets with water to soak each other. Completely drenched the three of them lost their shirts and swam out to the dock, diving and swimming to shore and then back again. They were joined by other kids and old lake friendships were formed again. The oldest joined in a game of soccer with some older boys and the other two muppets found a hole in the sand to play in. We had only been at the lake for a few hours but the three of them had done almost everything they loved to do here. 
After dinner, a boat ride, and a few games of air hockey the three muppets settled in to their beds in the trailer. I tucked them in giving each hugs and kisses. The youngest muppet gave me a squeeze and said “I love the lake mummy, and our trailer, I want to stay here forever!” I giggled and told him that it was one of my favourite places to be as well. The next few weeks will be filled with water, sand and fun for the Wilson boys. I just hope that I have the energy to keep up with them this year!