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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Secret weapon!

Whenever we are home it is inevitable that I will be asked, “How do you do it over there with no friends and family around to help? It must be so hard!”

To be honest, I found having one kid super easy, really! Not the sleepless nights or the figuring out everything for the first time, but it was just Leighton and I during the day. She was my buddy. I just put her in her sling or the baby Bjorn and we went out to conquer the world. She was an easy kid and we had a lot of fun together learning Dubai and meeting new people.  It was also torturously hard at times, but over time I have forgotten all the hurdles...  And when I got pregnant with Corby, I was worried! How do you do it with two now? Do they sell a double baby Bjorn carrier? No…Augh! So Jon and I made the decision to truly become expats... We caved and did what everyone here does after awhile.  Well, I am about to out myself.... It isn't hard being alone and having no family over here and actually it is a breeze.... Not because I am some sort of super mom or wife, far from it... It is easy because we have Georgina!

Gina is our live in help. She is an amazing lady. She is a mother of four and grandmother of two from the Philippines. She is a happy, social, loving woman and I am so grateful that she is part of our family!  Her youngest kids are finishing high school this year and when they are done with college she will head home to watch their kids so they can get jobs in places like Dubai and provide for her and their family like she has done for so long now.  This concept of the grandparents raising the grand kids who only see their parents once a year is so foreign to us as Westerners. It is hard to hear about and witness, but ultimately everyone is just trying to provide a better life for their kids and families. If your country doesn't have work and you can't feed your family, of course you would pick up shop and move to where you could. It is inherently in all of us to provide for our children no matter what!

So Gina does our laundry, the dishes, walks Walter, watches the girls if I need to run errands or go to the doctor sans kids, babysits, goes to the park with me and the girls (or solo), and will even cook for us if I let her, but I love cooking!  I realize that this is not reality. I realize that if I was home I would have to truly figure out how to have two kids by myself all day and do a lot of the household chores. Trust me, I got a dose of single parent medicine over last summer and I was so happy to come back to our false reality that is Dubai.  I realize that just taking out one of the million things that Gina does out of a normal person’s life would be glorious and that I have Gina doing all of them all the time! I realize how lucky I am and I am almost embarrassed that this is my current situation….but not enough to change it!  I get asked by people at home if it is weird having someone live in our house, to always have them in our space.... to quote a great local blog; "It is, until it isn't and then its genius!"

 I let Gina know everyday how grateful we are to have her in our home.  However, on the flip side she says she is so grateful to be working for us!  Gina has had a few sponsors since she has lived in Dubai, but the last ones were awful.  They treated her like a servant and everyday she thanks me for treating her like a person, a member of our family, and a human!  But why wouldn't I? She is a person and a person that makes my life so easy and also loves my kids... Like, she LOVES them! Corby is going to start wondering pretty soon why her mother is so tan with black hair and black eyes. Unfortunately, I won't be able to understand Corby's question because she will be asking me in Tagalog.


  I hate to think about that moment when we leave here to move home and have to leave Gina behind. She has asked to move home with us many times, but I let her know about the visa process and labor laws.... I try not to picture that day because it will be so hard, so I choose to live in the moment and sip my coffee slowly at the Starbucks because Gina is watching the girls at home. Yes, sometimes I CAN sip my coffee slowly out of an actual mug and not a to-go cup!

So when people ask why we haven't moved back yet don't blame me, or Jon, or his job…Blame Gina! If it wasn't for her we may have been out of here along time ago!

Until later...


Viva Barcelona

Here are some of my favorite things in life; Manchego cheese, heavy red wines, pride for your home, fried potatoes, day drinking, naps, pork, late night eating, happy dogs and happier old folks. Well, Barcelona had them all!  Of all the cities we have visited thus far, Barcelona has made me the happiest.  Don't get me wrong, I have loved everywhere we have gone but, Barcelona... well, I could see myself living there and being happy as a clam!
We started our trip out with a tapas and wine tour of the city.  Four stops with four types of tapas and pintxos paired with local wines... Nice way to start your first day if you ask me! Our tour guide, Paul, educated us not only on the food and wine, but also the history and culture of Barcelona and Spain and the differences between the two.  There were only 6 of us on this tour and we were all Americans (we are EVERYWHERE).  We can't escape our own kind, ha!  We were joined by a lovely couple from Orange County and neighbors from San Francisco traveling on business.  The food was great and the company was even better!  We ended our tour around 10pm and the next thing we all knew, it was 1:20 and the bartender was closing the bar doors on us. The next morning was a little rough, but with no rug rats to take care of we felt like we could run a freaking marathon!  Wait, have I not mentioned that fact yet?  We went With NO KIDS.... It was glorious!!!!!! Over the next few days we did a walking tour of the city, literally walked across the entire city and ran up to the highest point in Barcelona! We saw some amazing architecture, visited some beautiful parks, met some great people, and drank some fabulous wine (I really dislike French wine but love Spanish wine... crazy because they are so close!). I ate my weight in cheese and ham and enjoyed myself along the awesome ride that was Barcelona!




Have a mentioned that we miss good pork? Well, I think we got our fill on this trip! 
Fact of the day: Did you know that people back in the day hung Pork legs in
their windows/doors to show that they were Christians?

I was training for a marathon during this trip so we literally ran to the very highest point in the city... tooting my own horn... toot toot!
Now, it wasn't all rainbows and unicorns.... I literally broke out in a fever on the plane ride there and it never left me the entire trip.. Jon even had to have dinner by himself one night.  But with no kids to worry about, I managed to push through and eat and drink everything in my way!

Jon and I will forever be grateful to Carey and Dan Watson for watching our little devils. Two little kids plus a four month old of their own is no easy undertaking and they did it without one complaint. And here is the kicker.... Both our girls fell super ill as soon as we left... Like double ear infection, upper respiratory infection, upset tummy (on a newly potty trained kid) kind of sick. I joked with Carey, who is a nurse, that she deserves continuing educations hours for dealing with our kids.  

Until Later...

We did it!!!

Once again Leighton has made Jon and I feel like we are the perfect parents (trust me, we know we aren't!).  I am just now writing about this life event because I didn't want to jinx us at the time, but I think we are good to go now... it's been 6 months.  Leighton is officially potty trained!!! 
 We had a school break due to Eid... It's the second Eid, a religious holiday that occurs about a month after the end of Ramadan.  It's a national holiday and schools shut down for a few days, so we chose this long weekend to be THE weekend to potty train!  Leighton has been really interested in the potty for sometime now. Asking about it, wanting to watch everyone go to the bathroom, and the girl is all about panties (I hate that word by the way!). So, I borrowed "Potty Training in a Week" by Gina Ford, read up on the situation, formed a plan of action with Jon, and hit the road cold turkey on the first day of our long weekend.
Day one:  Leighton’s naked, mini potty in the play room, rugs rolled up, couch cushions inside garbage bags with towels on top for comfort of course.  We had a stamp set ready to reward an attempt or success on the potty and chocolate balls for a further reward.  Well, wouldn't you know it?  We went 4 for 4 on day one!!! All pee but 100%.... What what!!!
Day two:  Leighton's naked, mini potty still in the playroom, rugs and couch still under lockdown.  This day we were 90%.... Missing the potty a smidge on an attempt, but we'll take it and here's the big news.... We had a poop!  I understand that one day she will kill me in my sleep for all these pictures but come on, they are hilarious.... (Don't worry, we will have a lock installed on our master bedroom door!)


Day three:  We ventured out and wouldn't you know.... We were happy, dry and an officially potty trained big girl.  Who would have thought it would be that easy?!

Don't get me wrong... The first few weeks were torturous asking 1 million times a day if she had to use the potty or if she had to tee-tee.  I was sick of it and she was sick of it, but it worked. We did however have to stop in random places to "use the toilet" as Leighton says...
It's been 6 months now and I can count the accidents on a little more than one hand.  I am so impressed with our little Leighton and how grown up she is becoming!  I guess I am going to have to keep some of these gem pictures in a secret vault only to be pulled out for the high school "guess the baby" games at sports banquets/ graduation or for her rehearsal dinner! But come on.... Who can wait that long.... These pics are priceless and have to be shared with the world ;0)
Until later...