Friday 15 February 2013

It's not you, it's me

The other afternoon, Goosey had her fourth meltdown of the day and I looked at her. Really looked at her. She was white as a sheet, dark rings circling her usually spark-filled eyes. I realised she was absolutely exhausted. It's been a massive six months - moving countries and starting school five long days. So I let her take some much-needed time off school. I can see a difference already.

I'm feeling the same about this blog. It's tired. It's lacking spark. It needs a break.

I've got a new personal project about to take off, so I'm going to focus some time on that. I've also got a collaborative blog project in the works too, which I'll let you know about soon.

If I come back, it could be a week, it could be month. It will only be when I have some renewed vigour for this little corner of the interwebs.

If you're still out there reading, thanks so much for sticking around. I really appreciate it.

Thursday 14 February 2013

You know Dubai is home when...

Well we've been in Dubai six months now and I think it's well and truly home.

In fact, hearing some of the things that come out of our family members' mouths make me certain.

Here are some picture and words:

Mobile phone tower posing as a palm tree.

"Mum, we need to get a Ferrari so you can drive me to school faster. Or maybe that white car over there, what's that one called? Yeah, a Lamboghini, one of those."

I love being able to do u-eys everywhere.

Overheard while talking to her grandmother on Skype on a 30 degree day. "No, the weather is still quite cold here. I have to wear flannelette PJs."

Oh what a feeling!

"Can't we get it delivered/picked up/have someone else do it, surely??" (Usually uttered by Skip or myself)
Sleeping under seven stars.

"See you on Sunday morning!" (ie: actually getting it right on a Thursday afternoon and not saying Monday.)

The wide blue urban jungle.

"Mum, can we go to the North Pole on the weekend. I mean the one in the shopping mall."

All that glisters...

"Do you want turkey ham on the pizza?"

Worship and shop.
"Mum, how are we celebrating Chinese New Year/my 100th day of school/the Prophet's birthday/Valentine's Day? We really should do something special, you know."

Old worlds and new.

"Mum, kids can be absent from school if they're sick or if they have to travel somewhere."

"Mum, I think Jesus made half of the world and Mohammad made the other ."

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Speaking the same language

Living in Dubai means that you live in a swirl of accents. It is one of the biggest challenges of my day – understanding people and being understood. We're all speaking the same language but not understanding each other!

Picking up the phone, I take a deep breath, put my listening ears on and get ready to repeat myself. So much gets misunderstood especially on the phone, but not only.

Yesterday, I bought a falafel roll for lunch (seriously the best in the world, by the way), I put my order in and was asked "Would you like a drink?", when I asked what drinks they had, she typed into the register and said: "That will be 11 dirhams, please." Totally not understanding what I said she'd moved on. I can't complain because I'm guilty of this, don't understand or I've asked someone to repeat themselves too many times and I just move the conversation along, leaving behind that awkward moment when you're staring quizzically at each.

Quite often, if you're dealing with a tradesperson or similar, they'll just ask you to SMS to avoid confusion. Which is smart. Last week, I was trying to get someone's email address and it took three phone calls and a ton of embarrassment until I got it right.

There is an ad currently on the radio that pokes fun of some of the misunderstandings that happen on the phone here due to the many different accents. I'm glad it's not just me!

On of the most noticeable effects of being surrounded by world of accents, is that my girls are developing the weirdest accents imaginable. It's a mix of Australian, Canadian, American, Irish, British and, sometimes, just sometimes, I hear a little Filipino.

On that odd occasion I meet up with another Australian, I speak fast and full of Strine, relaxed in the knowledge that I'm being understood.

Of course it's not just accents either, it's all those little words that Aussies understand that our other native English speaking friends may not. Having a barbie and having to explain what a 'snag' or an 'esky' is. The kids asking for tomato sauce or lemonade and getting something very different to what they expected (let's not even talk about the fact that my kids now use the word 'candy').  Requesting to meet at midday and getting a "Huh? When?". The girls went to a friend's home after school and asked if they could have some afternoon tea, they were told (in the nicest possible way) "I didn't realise the Queen was coming over."

It's all part of the fun!

Monday 11 February 2013

Breaking babies

Some good friends of ours had a brand-new baby this week. There's nothing like the arrival of a new baby, such excitement and emotion, especially if it's yours. It makes me sad that I'm not in Sydney to give the new bundle a squishy cuddle.

It has sent me back to the early days, all the memories and emotions of having a baby, especially your first baby.

Lil arrived at 11.30pm on a Saturday night, after cuddles and phone calls, I remember being taken to my room at about 2am. Skip was pushed out the door, Lil was wheeled next to me and the nurse switched off the light and said: "See you in the morning!"

"What?!!" I thought. You can't leave me here alone with the baby. Surely she needs a monitor or something? At one stage in the early hours she started whimpering and I pressed the buzzer, the baby now asleep and quiet when the midwife came in, I said: "She was crying!" The midwife looked at me and said: "She's your first isn't she?"

Oh yes, indeed. The next few days were a blur of excitement. Visitors came and when I was surrounded by fragrant blooms and pink teddy bears. The night before I went home, I sobbed. Full of hormones and anxiety and baby blues.

I remember going home and attempting to go up the street. I looked at everyone sitting in cafes, doing their grocery shopping and wondered if I'd ever feel normal and carefree again? I couldn't believe that life around me was going on as always when my life had been turned upside down.

Dinners were eaten with a baby in my arms, I slept with a baby in my arms. I watched hours of Law & Order as I fed on the couch. My eyes hung out of my head and I felt like I was in a weird bubble.

Lil was a beautiful baby and I loved her overwhelmingly. I felt clueless, exhausted and fearful. Everyone wanted me, nay expected me, to be bursting at the seams with happiness. Deep down I wondered why people did this at all. Especially on those days when she cried every minute she wasn't feeding and I thought I'd go insane.

When she was three weeks old, I remember looking at her and feeling an overwhelming sense of failure. I'd broken her and it had only taken three weeks. A world record, surely. She wasn't doing anything she was supposed to be doing or that the books told me she'd be doing or that the other baby's were doing. It must have been my fault, who else's could it be?I knew I'd stuff up somewhere along the line, I just didn't think it would be so soon.

Poor Lil, so much pressure on a little baby to teach her clueless parents how to be parents. I remember just wanting answers, there must have been the 'right' way to do things, I just had to find out how. A simple plan to put in place that would make life feel, well, a little normal.

Before I had kids, I worked on a parenting magazine. I sub-edited and wrote stories about babies and how to care for them. I thought that if anyone had the knowledge behind them to have a baby it was me. But explaining to someone what it's like to have a baby is impossible. I guess it's like trying to explain what it's like to go to the moon, you can tell people about it but until you actually do it you have no idea what it's really like.

It's more than simply looking after a baby. It's all your emotions and feelings and energy in a little bundle. It's never being able to switch off, ever. It's being a mum 24/7. It's second guessing yourself. It's fear times 100. It's love times 100.

I wish I could go back in time and tell myself: "You haven't broken her (just yet). Frustratingly there are no right answers. There are no answers at all. You'll just have to muddle along and it will be alright. I promise, it will be alright."

The best piece of parenting advice I was given was when Lil was about 8 weeks old, a family member said: "You just keep trying things until whatever it is is fixed or they started doing something else. And then you'll wonder, 'what was that all about?' and move on to the next thing". The one thing that is true is there's always a next thing, there's always something, no matter how old they get.

At least now, I can yell at the girls "Go to sleep!" instead of endless rocking and patting and shushing. So things do get better, well they just get different. And now when Lil's eyes light up with excitement and pride as she tells me about finishing and acing her maths test, I realise that maybe I didn't break her after all.

Sunday 10 February 2013


Late yesterday afternoon, we packed up the car and headed out to the desert for a BBQ. We were joined in the dunes by some friends we've collected since we've been here. Funnily enough, we all arrived in Dubai around the same time.

The kids chased each other up and over the dunes and then crashed back down the sandy slopes engulfed in giggles. The sun fell out of the sky and we sat and chatted and ate. The air turned chilly so we lit a fire and our hair and pores soaked in the smoke. A canopy of stars appeared above us.

As we sat around the campfire, someone piped up and said: "Isn't it amazing? We've four groups of people from four different parts of the world, who just a few months ago didn't know each other existed. Now, here we are, sitting together in the dunes of Arabia. It's just so random!"

And it is. Life is so random. If you let it, it can take you on the most fabulous journey. It makes you think, where on earth and with who will I be in 12 months time? Life is a rollicking tale, you've just got to make sure you listen to it.

Thursday 7 February 2013

Musing the mundane

Ahhh the life of an expat. Each morning I wake up and peek out at a glorious view of the Arabian gulf. I drive past the billowing seven-star Burj Al Arab as I take the kids to school. On the drive home I glimpse the the silver slope of the indoor ski field and the shooting towers of the marina. The sun at this stage is glowing, just having popped up from the horizon.

Then I arrive home and there's toast crusts to pick up off the floor. Breakfast dishes to be washed. Loads of washing to be put on. Beds to be made.

Glam, huh?

In so many ways, life is exciting and new here. There are so many exotic adventures and experiences to be had, I feel inspired and blessed. Despite this, something hit me this week, my life has become focused on the mundane.

In Sydney, housework and chores were something I slotted in around the rest of my life. Quickly tidy up before meeting someone, throw some washing on before going somewhere. At the moment, they're the focus of my life. My purpose for the day.

It slapped me in the face when Skip asked what I had on the other day and my reply? "The cleaner is coming." So my whole purpose for the day was to open the door for the cleaner to clean, pay her and see her out again. Wow.

Well, it was actually a little bit more than that. First, I had to clean for the cleaner (because I'm odd like that, even when cleaners here will do all sorts of cleaning). Pay some bills. Put some washing on. Do some ringing around about getting the car fixed. I know. Crazy stuff.

You see, I can't have a full-time maid like many so here, because what would I do? I'd have to become a gin-swilling expat wife at the club. I don't actually know if there are any gin-swilling expat wives clubs, but I'm sure I could find something if need be.

I've made friends and have social connections of lunches and coffees and playdates, but still there feels like something is missing.

Anyhow, I think this is a sign that it's time to start filling in the finer detail of my Dubai life. Get involved in something. It doesn't seem like work is an option, but there has to be something...

Monday 4 February 2013

Blogs I love

The other day I was reading a blog post about blog rolls. You know that little list over to the right that has a whole lot of bloggy reading goodness. Some of you may already know everyone on that list, or you may just be my family and not interested in reading any other blogs.

Anyhoo, it made me think about all the blogs I love to read and the connections I've made through blogging. Over the past year, I've been pretty slack in the blogging world and don't read that many. I've got my favourites and tend to stick that. Boring, I know, but the circle of blogs I read are fab.

I thought I'd share my love and give you a little insight to my favourite bloggers. Who knows, you might find a new fave.

I've been lucky enough to know PPMJ for many years now. From before kids, way back when I worked on magazines. PPMJ has been one of my biggest bloggy cheerleaders and is amazing friend and supporter in real life. She's a gem. She writes about all things pretty, French, foodie and Newcastle.  A little PPMJ each day makes my life feel pretty.

Eleanor used to blog at Shopping the Closet, but is now at Ballyhoo & Bedbugs. Eleanor and I bonded online over food, wine & Pulp. She's a punkrocker turned fashionista, but the punk attitude is still there. 
Eleanor is one of the kindest souls, she sent me the biggest box of American chocolate and candy, so she knows the way to my heart. El blogs about food, her family, making the best of her life and pretty stuff. One day El and I will meet up and chat over wine and Pulp.

Carly is an Aussie expat in Dubai, just like me. I love reading her take on Dubai life and being an Aussie in the Middle East. I was lucky enough to meet Carly in one of my favourite haunts recently and hope to do it again soon. 

The gorgeous Julie is, as her title reveals, a mother to two beautiful boys and has her own crafty business. Julie is one of the good ones and has the kindest heart. She posts beautiful photographs of her boys and writes eloquently and honestly about her life. I love reading what Julie has been up to. I also reckon Julie is also my most prolific commenter.

Shar is an Irish mum living in Perth. She has two little ones, a gorgeous boy and sweet little baby girl. Shar is funny and she doesn't shy away from tough stuff or gloss over her life. Always a pleasure to read. 

Nat lives on a farm in country NSW with her four muddy kids. She has three girls and little baby boy about the same age as Darbs. I love reading Nat's blog because it's about as faraway from my life as you can get and she also writes in a wonderful way that grabs me. Nat also teaches me about things like dams, who knew?! 

I could go on and on as there are plenty more bloggy loves of my life, but I hope you go and check out these little gems, leave a comment and tell them I sent you!

Friday 1 February 2013

The best medicine

After a fairly crappy week, Skip and I had planned to go the races on Thursday night and have dinner.

We both weren't in the best frame of minds when we left. A busy day at work for Skip and the head cold which half of Dubai had had starting to take effect. I'd had a fairly disastrous afternoon with some friends from school that ended abruptly with one child needing an emergency trip to the dentist.

Plug on we did though and good work we did. Dinner on the terrace, the best seat in the house, the horses thundering past. Delicious food and drinks. Good conversation. The perfect antidote to a forgettable week.

After dinner we went down to the bar for shisha. Enveloped in a sweet cloud of smoke we relaxed even more. Surrounded by young Emiratis watching soccer, smoking shisha and texting on their phones. Older German tourists laughing and hugging.

The only blip in the night was the drunken, foul-mouthed yobs who waited with us for a taxi. Lacking manners, class and brains, they do no favours for themselves.

Late to bed, I was cursing the 5am wake up call from Darbs. But it was worth it.

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