Even bees get “Bahrained”

#bahrained is a common hashtag used in conversations among my American friends living in Bahrain.  It’s hard to describe #bahrained unless you live here.  It’s kind of like an inside joke but the joke is on you.  Bahrained is typically an unfavorable outcome or describes a situation that only seems plausible and acceptable in a place like Bahrain.  In addition to #bahrained there are also the regularly used #bahrainproblems and #inshallahtiming.  Let me use my week to shed light on insiders’ terms and give you a glimpse of what life can be like living in Bahrain.  Note to reader: I did not make up any of this.

I pick up my car, the Island Beater, from the mechanic on Sunday night.  I don’t drive it at all on Monday. On Tuesday, as I’m driving to teach my first class at a new yoga studio, my Island Beater overheats because the water tank decides to fall apart.  I’m stuck turning the AC off and turning the heat on in 118F/48C degrees hoping it will help cool the engine off.  Simultaneously I pray to God, and every remover of obstacle deity I know, that I can make it over the one stretch of highway that is a bridge with  no shoulder and no exits.  #bahrained

I make it across the bridge and even further than I had anticipated.  Eventually, my car finally dies in the middle lane and everyone honks at me and gives me the Bahraini hand swat in mid-air as if I’ve purposely let my car die in the middle of the road trying to ruin their day. #bahrained

#Luck: My car turns back on.  I go back into prayer mode, “please car, please car just get me to the studio.  please.”  I’m giggling with how ridiculous my morning is.  It’s only 7:48am.  At snail’s pace,  pleaful chanting, and reassuring car talk like my car is trying to have a baby, I putter my way to the yoga studio.  The car dies as I turn into the parking lot. BUT I MADE IT!!!  I think, “it’s not a bad day after all.”

I’m dripping sweat because I’ve been driving with the heat on in 118F/48C degrees.  I run into the yoga studio for a sweet surrender and cold escape only to discover the studio’s AC and electricity are not working.  Not joking.  Seriously #bahrained!

I pull my phone out of my bag only to be reminded my phone died the night before (not joking) and I’m using a back-up phone with no contact information for any of my “guys”–not the car/mechanic guy, not the tow truck guy, not even my Bahrain friends. The only number I have is Tad’s because it’s his old phone but then I realize he isn’t allowed to have his phone with him at work so I’m texting all my updates to a turned off phone sitting in a locker. #bahrained

#smartphonesforthewin:  I go to open Facebook to start my search for phone numbers, tow trucks, mechanics, etc. and discover the FB app is not loaded on the phone and there isn’t enough memory to download it.  Thank god for plain old internet on a phone.  I think, “I love you Steve Jobs.” 

I have to choose where to rectify my situation: inside the studio with no AC but a roof to cover me from the blazing sun OR outside with a slight breeze.  It’s now a feel temperature of 122F/50C degrees and the iPhone6 is beginning to get hotter and hotter with every search and phone call I make and the battery is draining like crazy. #bahrainproblems

#LifeisGood:  It’s now Wednesday…I go 24 hours without anything “exciting” happening.  My car actually got towed to the right mechanic.  My kids are sort-of listening and not draining my soul with whining.  It’s a good day. I’m also headed to a sunset SUP yoga paddle session with a Bahrain bestie.

I’m being a good global citizen by picking up the trash in the water as I paddle around only to pick up a bag of ground beef and half of it is still filled with flesh (semi-cooked because the water is so warm) and it flies across my legs, arm, and board.  Beef?!  Who finds ground beef in the ocean?!  #bahrained.

It’s still Wednesday, the sunset was beautiful and I’m relaxed knowing I got all my #bahrainproblems out of the way for the week.  I was wrong.  Just as I’m finishing up I receive a text from our nanny that there is no running water at the house.  Surprise, I just got #bahrained…again.

On the way home (my friend is driving) the mechanic calls to say he thinks he’s fixed the car but he can’t be 100% sure. Furthermore, I can come pick up the car tonight and hopefully it doesn’t overheat again or I can leave it with him until tomorrow and he’ll double check the engine in the morning. I decide to go another day without a car and now start to realize I may have to cancel work because I don’t have a car and possibly running water.  #bahrainproblems #bahrained

It’s evening prayer time and close to dinner so my landlord and his brothers are not checking their phones and receiving my calls.  I need the plumber guy ASAP but I don’t have his number because, remember, I still don’t have any phone numbers because my phone is dead.  #bahrained

My landlord comes over and realizes he can’t fix the water, he’ll send someone over in the morning…Inshallah.  I don’t hold my breath because that literally translates to, “someone will come check out the water situation in the next week.”  Let me introduce you to #inshallahtiming.

I smell like dying flesh because I haven’t showered all day but have sweat like crazy teaching yoga both on land and in water and had to walk to and from the yoga studio in 110F/43C degrees (because my car is still at the mechanics), and I still have remnants of semi-cooked beef juice on my arms and legs.  HOWEVER, Tad tells me there is water in the upstairs bathroom.  YES!!!  So I squat under the trickling stream of water, lather up and scrub the beef juice areas extra hard, turn the water on to finally wash off and THERE IS NO MORE WATER.  NONE.  NOT EVEN A DROP. I’m forced to wipe off the soap with drinking water, a wash cloth, and baby wipes.  #bahrained.

#Luck:  It’s now Thursday morning, less than 48 hours after my car died and about 60 hours since my phone died, and the plumber guy actually shows up.  It’s the first time in a full year someone has shown up when they said they would.  Inshallah THAT!  It’s going to be a good day.

Thank goodness I took the day off because not only can the plumber not figure out why our water isn’t working (and I’m now wondering if I need to move us into a hotel), I now also have the Civil Defense Department at my front door.  What? Where did they come from?  Why are a bunch of very official looking men standing at my front door.  Oh wait, the landlord this morning saw a bee hive in our yard and is having it taken care of. #bahrained  This is a good time to insert a joke: “How many men does it take to remove a bee hive?”  Apparently in Bahrain, about 10.  No surprise though for anyone who lives here and constantly sees one man working and 3-8 on-lookers…I mean helpers.  We’ve finally arrived to the title…

Even bees get #bahrained.  The Civil Defense’s solution for a bee hive is to blast it with water.  No joke.  The very official men all arrived on a florescent yellow fire truck.  They drug a fire hose into our entry way and blasted the poor hive to pieces.  I didn’t want them to do it but the order was called in by my landlord out of wanting our family (mostly the kids) to be safe.  When I saw they were honey bees I lost it.  Honey bees are like GOLD!!! I thought I was doing so well this week given the onslaught of #bahrained moments but it was the bees that broke me.  I started crying for the thousands of bees dying and drowning in my entry way while the Civil Defense crew picked dates off my tree.  Even bees get #bahrained.

#Life:  So there you have it.  It’s now 2pm on Thursday [deep breath of relief].  I’m still using a back-up phone because the phone plan we use (Google’s Project Fi) only has a few specific phones that work with its plan and NONE of those phones are sold in Bahrain.  Surprise.  And YES, if you just silently said to yourself “Bahrained,” you get it. You got it.  By noon I got to bring my Island Beater back home and our water was turned on while I was getting the car (it’s a miracle).  Life is good.

Honestly, I’m not really surprised by this week.  About one week ago I heard that voice within warn me, “Are you ready?”  I knew what it was talking about.  I hear this voice and have glimpses of what-might-come-to-be in the most random times, doing dishes, opening a car door, brushing my teeth.  Life’s been really smooth lately—no major bumps, a few house issues (but what’s new), and overall we’re all in a really good Bahrain groove.  The voice was letting me know the pot was about to be stirred.

The old me, the version of me I still have memories of in college and even in my 20’s, would have cried, lost it, complained, and even thought the world was out to get me. Now, I know these weeks are here to test me.  I see weeks like this as a check-in to see if I’m really walking my talk.  They are also a good reminder that life is good.  I mean really, the truth is if I’m texting my Bahrain besties #bahrained or #bahrainproblems, it means we’re making light out of an annoying situation.  No one is hurt.  No one is in serious danger.  I’m overly grateful to have the means to take care of each situation as well.  We’re turning our complaints into jokes and trying to just do the best we can given our western upbringing in a same same but different country .

During weeks like this I can’t help but think about all the people who move to the United States and have to adjust to life there.  Do they have a term with their friends that helps them get through their adjustments?  Like ‘Merica’d, or “RWB’d“?  That culture shock and adjustment just seems unfathomable to me.  Like all things, living in Bahrain is another great test of letting go of the things I can’t change and learning how to be more adaptable, open minded, and even accepting of the things I don’t wan to accept.  I know not everyone moves as much as we do but maybe my week, my #bahrained vignette will help you to be more compassionate to people in your neighborhood, city, office, or school.  Please, next time you meet someone who has moved to the United States, might I suggest you think of Tad, Trace, Izzy, and I. They are likely going through a similar adjustment period but uniquely their own in a foreign land.  Rather than see them as different or not fitting in, maybe just realize they are a son or daughter making the most out of their given situation and likely getting there version of #bahrained.   

From my heart to yours…

Aloha & Namste

 

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Happy 1 year Bahrainiversary to us!

And just like that, we’ve been here for one year [eyes bulge out of disbelief]. In my mind, it feels more like 7 months. To Tad, he says even shorter. But alas, we’ve hit our 1 year Bahrainiversary and we are definitely in full stride.   I had full intentions of writing a 1 year blog before we went to Georgia (the country in Europe, not the United States) but that clearly never happened. So here I am, one month post Georgia finally getting a moment to write.

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Tad and Trace feeding the camels at the Royal Camel Farm.

Bahrain has and continues to treat us well (knock on wood). Tad has been traveling all over the Middle East and back to the United States quite frequently. While he doesn’t like being away so long and so often, he seems to be enjoying the executive treatment at the airport lounges like a kid in a candy store. And let’s be honest, traveling without kids has to feel like winning a jackpot.

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Trace wearing his Pre-Nursery end-of-the-year costume at the bowling alley.  Yes, that’s a 11lb bowling ball.

Trace LOVED attending Kidz World (pre-school) this last year and is still our avid learner and bookworm. To my own fault, I often treat Trace way older than he is. Tad taught Trace how to say, “mommy, I’m just 3.” I wish I didn’t need to be reminded, but I do. He’s just so mature and smart.  Aaaand he still loves to cuddle.  I feel like I can really get into this age.  Maybe 3.5 years is my thing.  2.5 is definitely NOT.  Intro Izzy…

 

 

 

 

 

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Izzy is better at walking in heels than I am.  She has also perfected her fashion blog pose at an impressive age.  

Izzy…Oh Izzy. She is so her own (said with a huge sigh and huge smile). That girl. Pre-Geogia she was getting soooooo bored staying at home with me (yes, she would tell me) and kept asking me to go to school with Trace. Thank goodness Kidz World is hosting a summer camp they both started after our trip to Georgia. Izzy is super excited to be a big kid now and Trace loves having Izzy at “school” with him.  Already, this summer is a big turning point for Iz. Not only is she going to Kidz World every morning with her favorite person in the whole entire World, but she also decided she doesn’t want to wear diapers anymore. Score!  She also has turned up the boundary testing by 300%.  Maybe Trace was this stubborn but if so the amnesia is real.  She’s testing me in every way possible.  Tad just taught her, “mommy, I’m just 2.”  Izzy naturally threw in the head tilt and cute blinks while saying it.  Watch out World…Izzy’s coming for you.

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Getting ready to paddle out for a solo Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) Yoga session.  

And me, oh yeah, me. It’s all divine timing. The week I signed the kids up for summer camp I was contacted by three different yoga studios to teach.  Yoga is just beginning to become a thing here, as is all things natural and holistic.  And with the country being as small as it is, apparently my name got out.  It is really good timing for me to be here now. Now that the kids are at summer camp and soon-to-be pre-school every morning, I’ll be teaching yoga at two new studios in Bahrain while continuing to teach Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) Yoga for Beach Culture and growing my YouTube channel library Yoga with Haunani.  I’ve also been asked to do cupping, acupuncture, and workshops.  We’ll see if that comes to be.  So yeah, we are all in our little Bahraini groove and it feels amazing.

Recently, I’ve noticed Tad and I sharing more and more phrases that start with, “You’d never know unless you lived in Bahrain….(finish the sentence with something new to our family).” So in honor of this one-year mark, I figure I would share some of these insights we’ve gleaned as a family. Honestly, I’m not sure these are specific to Bahrain.  They are probably more like lessons you learn for western family moving anywhere in a Middle Eastern desert-like country.  However, since we live in Bahrain, here goes…

You’d never know unless you lived in Bahrain:

  • 105F degrees feels cool, even with humidity.
  • Having a “guy” for everything is the only way you get things fixed here.
  • Wearing glasses or sunglasses with metal frames during the hot-season (June-October) will burn the side of your face or anywhere that your frames accidentally touches your face.
  • Having your own date tree is the best!
  • Driving gloves are required…not for the cold (the only reason I knew they existed) but for the billion degree steering wheel that cooked in your car while you were getting groceries or running an errand on Base.
  • We are in the middle of everything…it takes 3-5 hours to fly all over the globe and we are definitely taking advantage of it.
  • A 3-5 hour flight with toddlers is no big deal.
  • Hummus in the United States is gross.
  • Tripping or falling onto your hands, knees, and even face, during the hot-season, can lead to 1st and 2nd degree burns.  Izzy helped us figure this one out.
  • Making crisp, fresh french fries is harder than you think.
  • Holistic anything…yoga, Acupuncture, Ayurveda…is spreading like crazy here.  It’s a good time for me to be here and help that growth and education.
  • Keeping a house in good working order…water, electricity, plumbing…is apparently a miracle.  We all live in miracle homes in the States.
  • The “Saudi swoop.”  It’s totally acceptable to cut across three lanes of traffic to make a turn or u-turn.
  • Fruits have seeds in them…duh, I know but everything you buy in grocery stores in the US has been modified to lose the seeds.  I love showing the kids all the different types of seeds and making them learn how to eat around the seeds.  Less work for mommy!
  • You can drink camel’s milk.
  • Rain is both a blessing and a curse.  Blessing because it’s rain in the dessert and a curse because this island was not built for rain.  Everything turns into water front property, including your bedroom floor when the water starts leaking through your roof or running down your walls out of the Air Conditioning units.  We lucked out but several families here had full on rivers in their homes.
  • Google’s Project Fi is the best phone service and invention for families who move abroad and travel a lot.
  • Cars have a lifespan of 10 years.  It’s literally so hot and sandy it destroys the cars. My car is 12 years old and everyday I pray to God it starts and doesn’t fail me mid-drive.
  • High rise buildings and malls are still built by hand…like the whole thing, cement bricks and all.  Only the really rich developers bring in the machines like a crane or cement mixer.  It’s truly impressive.

I’m sure I could keep going on and on because a lot of stuff we’ve gotten use to.

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Now that we are at our one year mark it means we are mentally preparing for our next move.  I know, CRAZY, but that’s how it works.  Move.  Adjust.  Settle.  Prepare (to move again).  Repeat.   With that said, NO we don’t have any idea where we’ll be moving next. Maybe by December but I’m not counting on it until March 2018.  I have asked Tad numerous times to extend and stay here but that will not be happening.

By the way, I post a lot of family (Trace and Izzy) photos and our life in Bahrain on Instagram.  Only a few get shared on Facebook.  So close friends and family, if you want to see more of us, follow me on IG at BreatheConnectBe.  If you want to follow my work (yoga, acupuncture, holistic health), follow me at AlohaYogiMom.

Until next time.  Aloha & Namaste.

Ever receive a bird as a party favor? We just did.

Warning: there is swearing in this blog. Yes, it is warranted.

I have so many blogs to write, to catch up my online journal/family memory lane blog.  I’ll get to them.  Some day.  But this one—this one deserves staying up to write.

I consider myself rather imaginative.  I can come up with really crazy stories, out there ideas and hypotheses.  I’m a “free thinker” in so many ways.  But never, ever, ever, EVER in a million years did I ever consider that people gave away birds as party favors, let alone be on the receiving end of this unimaginable concept. But it happened. Oh yes, it happened.  And it happened to me last night.

Let me say, as I begin writing this I’m about 24.5 hours into this cultural comprehension moment and I’m still in a little shock and overcome with random chuckles and LOL moments.  Last night I was leaning more towards the shock side of the experience and as the day progressed, I’m just laughing and giggling at this very unexpected and unconventional “gift.”

Screenshot_20170611-23So how did this happen? The short version: I delivered some goodies for the kids celebrating Gurgaon (a special day in Ramadan) to our neighbors and came home with a bird. Literally, I wish there was more to the story but there really isn’t. The neighbors had invited us to come celebrate Gurgaon with them but by the time they were celebrating (after sunset, Iftar, and prayer) our kids were already asleep. This is not the first time this has happened. The Bahrain family schedule is very different than ours. Since I had prepared goodie bags and some treats, I didn’t want them to go to waste or spoil so I thought I’d just stop by really quick, drop them off, and apologize that our kids had fallen asleep.

Yeah, well as I left our house Tad and I both knew there was no way I could just drop something off. A polite invitation to join the festivities would inevitably happen. For how long I’d be there, we had no idea. I asked Tad to call me if it got too late. So off I went with the goodie bags and cupcakes (from the amazing Semper Fi Treats).

When I arrived there was a sea of shoes already at the front entrance.  Like in Hawai’i, people take their shoes off before entering  a home.  I was greeted by our landlord and he immediately invited me to joint the festivities. Several woman–his sister, wife, mother, and cousins–all came and welcomed me. I couldn’t leave. No matter what I tried to say, it would be unacceptable to leave. So there I was invited to sit and join the family Gurgaon/Ramadan gathering. I was feeling both happy I had changed out of my pajamas and back into my day clothes (jeans and a blouse) since the room was full of beautiful gowns and dresses and super uncomfortable since I had not gone to great lengths to look my best.  In fact, I had the just-got-out-of-the-pool-and-put-on-some-clothes-look.  I was stunning in my own special way.  Haha.

I sat down and was immediately given a huge bag of gifts for Trace and Izzy. I learned quickly it is quite uncomfortable to receive gifts for a holiday you don’t celebrate and from people you barely know. Literally for the next twenty minutes there was song, dancing, and blessings for all the children, especially the new babies in the family. From what I gathered from the cousin who patiently sat next to me and tried to make me feel at home Gurgaon is a big celebration for the children, especially the new babies in the family since last Ramadan (at least this is how it was being celebrated).

During this time there was a non-stop stream of gift giving, mostly candy and food items, but also fully wrapped gifts of all shapes and sizes. I sat there more and more uncomfortable. I literally came over with goodie bags of candy and chocolate and here I was being given so many gifts it eventually would take me three large bags to bring it all home. As the blessings seemed to be winding down, the song and dance less the focus of I saw one of the cousins leaving with her son that goes to Trace’s school. In my mind I thought it would be a good time to leave.  If she’s leaving, it won’t be rude for me to leave either.

After I said my good-byes and thank you’s, I was attempting to walk out when the sister stopped me and asked me to wait for one more gift. I already had three large bags of gifts and food they had just shared, what more could I possibly carry or get? This is when she came out of the house with the bird cage and bird. I’m sure my jaw dropped, my eyes bugged out of my head as I chuckled with disbelief trying to turn the gift away. But when she said it was from the two new babies of the family (I forget their names) I realized there was no turning this bird away. Culturally it would be beyond rude and a disgrace. Somewhere in my shock and bewildered perspective-rocked mind, I thanked her and proceeded to walk home. The rented black and white miniature pony didn’t even get a double-take from me as I carried the chirping bird toward my house.

Thinking back, I must have looked like a crazy unkempt lady walking down the street with bags in one hand, a tiny bird cage holding it in front of me like it was a dirty diaper, while I stared straight ahead like a zombie mumbling quickly and out loud to myself, “Oh my god, we just got a bird. Oh my god, Tad’s going to die. [Quickly glancing into the cage but not long enough to acknowledge the reality of it all] Oh my god, this is a bird. What the f&ck? Who gives a bird? [chuckle] I’m holding a bird. [chuckle] Oh my god, I’m holding a bird. What do I do? Should I let it out now? What the f&ck? What the f&ck? What the f&ck!” Then I was home.  We live two houses away.

Thank goodness Tad is an animal loving Saint who took the news and appearance of a tiny pink cage and scared-shitless bird to heart with a chuckle, open-mind, and heart. He immediately understood the cultural conundrum I was put in and also realized I couldn’t turn the bird away. His first overzealous, animal loving idea was, “great, now we can have a house bird that just flies around.” Having lived with parakeets in my pre-teen years, I immediately vetoed that idea reminding him bird shit would be everywhere. He disappointingly agreed.

Between our disbelief and fits of chuckles and laughter we discussed our other options. Should we release it outside? That wouldn’t work because what would we say when the landlord visited or brought his kid over for a play date and asked about the bird. Would we lie to them? Tell them we “accidentally” let it out? And in our hearts we knew the finch would likely become feral cat food more than anything—which I’m sure would make the neighborhood cats happy and tiny birds are not endangered but the thought of this little bird being mauled by street cats was disheartening.

“It wouldn’t be acceptable to return the bird would it?” we considered. That’s when Tad declared, “I guess we’ll just keep it.” And if any of you know how Tad makes decisions, once it’s made, once it’s declared, it’s done. So, just like that we had a bird. Tad decided it would be good for the kids, the kids could name it, we could only keep it for one year because we could not move with it (military wouldn’t allow it), so what harm could having a bird for one year do? For a second my imagination ran wild with memories of my birds, the cleaning, the smell, biting Trace and Izzy’s fingers, bird getting loose and there being a mad hunt trying to get it back in its cage, and then the tears of having to say good-bye to another beloved friend when we have to PCS (military move). In my mind a lot could go wrong with this bird. But it was decided Tad chose the name Lemy (after _____) and then went to bed. So much for the kids getting to choose a name.

I poured myself a glass of wine, sat there half stunned, half hysterical as this little bird chirped away in a cage way to small and I posted on Instagram and Facebook about our bird. “Does anyone know what type of bird this is? Male? Female?” Screenshot_20170611-211908.pngWithin a few minutes I was informed it was a male zebra finch. Upon doing a Google search I could confirm it was and I began reading up on what I was now going to be responsible for keeping alive for one year until we could re-gift it back to our neighbor/landlord who has a huge aviary at his house.

The information I read was only putting me into greater shock and disbelief. This one overly generous unnecessary gift was escalating quickly. Everything I read said I’d need to get at least one more bird, if not more since they like community. I’d also need to get a huge cage.  If I wasn’t so concerned about early-onset dementia I would have been pounding my head into the table saying, “what the f$ck?!!!!” over and over again. I chugged the wine, told the little birdie to have a good night, turned off the lights and went to bed not convinced his name was Lemy.

After a surprisingly deep night’s sleep the very first thing I woke up thinking was, “Fuck, I have a bird downstairs. Should I go release it before the kids wake up?” I checked my phone really quickly almost hoping I had a message from Tad saying he’d already done it. Nothing. I did have a bunch of social media updates that made it clear birds are either loved or hated; there’s no in between. By the time I had my contacts in and ran down to see if it was still in the cage, I heard Izzy waking. By the time I got back upstairs Izzy was standing at the top of the stairs and immediately said, “I hear birdies.” Her cute little voice saying “birdie” sealed the deal. It was too cute. She would love it. I picked her up and we listened a few more times as I told her we got a new bird. Before I knew it, Trace was up and asking me about the chirping sounds too. The look of anticipation and excitement was like Christmas. Now that I think about it, that must have been quite a morning for them. Go to bed with no clue of anything changing and wake up to mommy and daddy getting a new pet bird. I think we just reinforced their concept that mommy and daddy are magical.

IMG_20170611_090253.jpgTrace and Izzy were in love at first site. I quickly told them it was a Bahrain bird so that when we travel and move it needs to stay in Bahrain. I also told them we needed to find a name for it. Trace wanted Bobby. Izzy thought about it through breakfast than declared Kaka. Both seemed appropriate. After I told them daddy’s name idea, Trace then declared “the parrot” should be called Lemy Bobby Kaka. In good ‘ole Hawaiian style our bird has a forever long name.

Trace keeps calling it a parrot even though I correct him every time. Izzy…oh, Izzy, she is hysterical. She is her own. All day today she has been running up to the cage and yelling, “Boat snack!” to the bird. This makes me laugh out loud every time. For those who don’t get it, it’s a reference to the movie Moana. Maui, the demigod, calls Moana’s chicken a “boat snack.” I found Trace singing to the bird before school because he told me it would make the bird less scared. Izzy also kept saying in her sweetest voice ever, “It’s okay birdie” every time it chirped. So yes, we now have a pet finch (not a parrot) for the next year.

IMG_20170611_204538.jpgThe neighborhood watchman found an unused cage at the landlord’s house so we could upgrade the size of the cage this evening. Tad is already talking about buying a friend for the finch so he doesn’t get lonely and depressed. I, on the other hand, have cleaned the surrounding of the cage five times today. And while the bird seemed to like yoga class today, possibly even falling asleep during savasana, it’s going to take me a while to get over the culture shock of receiving a bird as a party favor.

When something unexpected happens to you that is both hysterically funny and culturally out of the box, it is quite a psychological experiment in mindfulness and watching the mind waver between thoughts and reactions that are both loving and ones that are cruel.  I know this is just a bird.  It’s not like it’s a rare species or human being but still…receiving a bird as a party favor is like my friend texted me, “so funny, so wrong.”  I’m already hesitant to attend any more events at my landlord’s house, especially for Ramadan or Gurgaon next year. I guess our saving grace from a pet chicken or who knows what they’ll hand out next year, is that we will be getting ready to move this time next year. Now THAT is crazy to think about too.

Same same, but different

Note: amateur blogger error.  I swear I posted this weeks ago.  No wonder no one had commented on it.  Ooooops.  A little dated now but still worth keeping around for a few laughs and memories.  Enjoy!

In past blogs, like all of them, I’ve used the phrase “same same, but different.”  In keeping true to my past references, I dedicate this entire blog to life in Bahrain and how it is same same, but different.

Note to reader:  It’s 11pm when I’m starting this blog.  I apologize ahead of time for the lack of editing and lack of flow.  I’m just going to use the good ‘ole listing method for this blog.  If that bothers you, skip this one.  Aaaaand to be clear, NO WAY did I stay up to write this blog.  I too get the creative stroke of genius in the wee-hours of the night, especially on a full moon like tonight, but I love sleep too much to stay up for a blog.  Priorities people.  I’m up this late because there is a Seahawks game starting in 22 minutes.  Which leads me to my first same same, but different example.

Example 1.  Sunday football.  I have had many incarnations in this life.  The agnostic, cheerleader, homecoming queen, the 80 hour work week restaurant manager, waking up to full body pain, coffee and chasing it with wine and whiskey, the hippie, anti-government, live-off-the-grid yogi, the spiritually uplifted but totally ungrounded gotta-figure-this-thing-called-life-out while getting a masters degree in the most out of the box field of medicine, to the current stay-at-home mom living in Bahrain…but through it all I am a die hard football fan.  From the time I can remember, watching football was a family event.  Overtime, as I began to watch the game for the sport and not the cool outfits the “cheerleaders” were wearing (because my “Auntie” was the designer…no joke), I loved the game.  I love the sport.  I love the psychology.  I love to yell at the TV like I know better than the players or coaches.  And I love guacamole.  Every game is better with guacamole.  Duh.  Bahrain is literally half way around the globe but we’ve figured out how to watch NFL games live–God bless Game Pass.  The only drawback is most Sunday games start at 8pm and most Hawks games start around 11pm, ending around 2am.  So yay [insert happy dance] to getting my game fix, booooooo to bags under my eyes and crankiness the next day.  I still love watching the games but there is a totally different vibe to my Sundays when games start so late.  For you football types, imagine trying not to yell at the refs at 1am because you might wake up the kids, your husband, or the neighborhood.  Kind of takes the fun out of the game a little, right?   Also, guacamole at 1 am doesn’t taste as good.  So NFL and Sunday football…Same same, but different.

Example 2.  The Internet.  Clearly we have the internet if we’re watching Game Pass and posting blogs.  But…do you remember the internet 10 years ago?  More like, do you remember the speed of your internet 10 years ago?  Well, that’s what we have going on here.  It. is. so. slooooooooooooooowwwwwwwww.  I’m not complaining (well, not right now but 50% of the time I do get frustrated with the speed) because the alternative to slower or no internet is just out of my modern-day realm of possibilities at this point in life.  So internet…same same, but different.

Example 3.  Alcohol.  I know not everyone drinks, and I’m always really impressed by those who don’t, but our family does.  Obviously (or maybe not so obviously, hehehehe) Trace and Izzy don’t, but mommy and daddy sure need their “mommy milk” and “daddy milk” to survive these toddler years.  Technically, alcohol is illegal in Bahrain.  Thanks to international relations, we can buy alcohol on Base…via a rationing system.  Through an application and approval from Tad’s boss, I was granted 26 points per month (something like that).  Each bottle or six-pack has a point value assigned to it.  As I buy a six-pack or bottle, my points slowly dwindle.  If I use all my points I can’t buy any more alcohol until the 1st of the month when my points renew.  And no, there is no carry over like your cell phone minutes.  I definitely stock up just to use my points towards the end of the month just in case we ever have a huge snow storm and I can’t get out of the house (rookie mistake I made in Virginia that I’ll never make again).  And yes, you have to pay for your alcohol on top of using your points.  While this has definitely decreased my glass of wine while I cook tendency, I have become  more discerning about my wine drinking.  I save my precious glass of wine for those toddler moments when a glass of wine is really needed.  Oh, let’s say, like 10am instead.  Again, priorities people.  So alcohol…same same, but different.

Example 4.  Weekends.  “Weekends?” you ask.  “How can this be same same, but different?”  In Bahrain, and in many middle eastern countries, the weekend is Friday (the holy day) and Saturday.  This means Thursday nights are the equivalent to the American Friday night and Sunday is the first day of the work week.  You’ll hear us say on Thursday night, “Yay, it’s Friday.”  I’m sure we’ve permanently screwed up Trace’s initial concept of days of the week.  Eh.  He’ll get over it.  Practically speaking, if Tad ever really got a day off (which he rarely does), he’d work Sunday-Thursday.  As it is, because his boss’s boss’s boss (or something like that) is in Tampa, Florida, and they work for “the man” who never sleeps, and there are conflicts all over the middle east (in case you haven’t turned on TV or radio in ten years), Tad is at work a lot.  Since the kids and I are impervious to time (one of the blessings of being a toddler and stay-at-home mom) we technically get weekends but really every day just blends in with the next.  So while you all are getting ready to kick back, party, and socialize on Saturday night, it’s a “work night” for us.  Sunday football is a work day and work night for us.  Blah.  So weekends…same same, but different.

Example 5.  Showers.  To my delightful surprise we have decent pressure.  I mean, it’s better than a bucket and cup which I was totally prepared for too. Expect the worst, be surprised and happy about anything better than the worst is the new type of mentality  Tad is slowly encouraging me to embrace.  Another thing about our shower is that I didn’t anticipate hot water.  Yes, this is a developed part of the world, so running water is widely available but when I’m talking about hot water, I’m talking about scalding hot water every time you turn on the faucet–immediate hot water.  Is this a blessing or a curse?  Need to shower? Jump right in. Wash your dishes?  Ready to go. Wash your hands?  Add a little soap and those germs are toast. At first, I was excited. How fun. Instant hot water.  The Environmentalist in me was thrilled, “no wasting water while waiting for it to warm up.  Big tree hug. Then the reality hit. Oh wait, but there is NO cold water. Anywhere. Not in ANY of our faucets. No biggie since we have a water cooler for drinking water and I typically drink warm or room temp water anyway. But the theory of you want what you don’t have hits. “What if I WANT cold water?”  Too bad.  Not getting it. Apparently when the weather begins to drop so will our water temperature. Makes sense. Our house’s water tank is on the roof. It’s basking in the desert sun just absorbing, like a hot pot of water, the heat of every second of every day.  So yes, all our house water is hot. The hotter the day and night, the hotter our water. When we first moved-in the water was scalding hot.  So hot you could barely wash your hands or shower. Never thought that was a possibility.  With a simple lack of foresight, the kids’ bath time was pretty loud with screaming tears of pain as we threw them into scalding hot bath water.  Oooops.  We quickly learned…we need to draw a bath (never thought I’d ever use that phrase in my life) and let the bath water sit for 5-10 minutes until it cooled off.  Soon our water temperature will drop and we won’t have any hot water, only cold water.  We’ll have to test out the water heater and see if it actually works.  So showers…same same, but different.

Since we’re in the house and on the topic of water, let’s stay here for one more example.

Example 6. The sink.  In our kitchen, we have a double stainless steel sink.  A little industrial but it works and I’m grateful for the double basin.  No garbage disposal had me lost for a few months but I’m slowly finding my way.  I’m such a suburban princess. So not only is there no garbage disposal the drains are teeny-tiny, said in Izzy’s cute toddler voice.   Two big basins + two teeny tiny drains = [Insert emoji of me pounding my forehead into the wall].  How does this all add up in a practical sense?  Washing dishes takes fourteen times longer than in the States.  The sink is constantly getting backed up with dirty water because the little strainer is so tiny and the smallest particles of food, i.e. bread crumbs, chicken nugget crumbs, and God forbid if flax seed or chia seed gets washed into the sink, fills the drain strainer immediately.  It doesn’t even matter if we’re using the dishwasher, which we have, because all the food particles still back up in the sink preventing me from even getting the dishes into the dishwasher at any normal rate.  Regardless, I rarely use the dishwasher because it cleans about as well as Trace and Izzy would do if they tried to do the dishes.  Oh, I hear some of you saying, “just wipe off your plates of debris before you wash.”  Aha, I do!  In the four weeks of living here I have managed to scientifically analyze, test, and conclude that the best method for dealing with these tiny sink drains without a disposal is to live off paper plates.  There goes my Environmentalist streak. Noooooo, we don’t use paper plates but I fist bump the families who do.  So sinks…same same, but different.  

So it’s getting really late, so late tomorrow is going to be a treat for everyone.  Poor Izzy.  At least Trace has school in the morning.  I have so many more same same, but different stories about living in Bahrain.  I’ll save them for another blog.

Before I sign off, please know Trace and Izzy were not badly hurt or burned by the hot water in the story shared above.  Toddlers are so dramatic and scream about anything.  I also want to make it very clear that we are incredibly grateful for this opportunity to live here.  I totally understand and am very aware that the stuff shared in this blog is petty in the big scheme of life.  It’s also these little things in life that make Bahrain…Bahrain. Before we know it, we’ll be PCSing to another place and Bahrain will seem like a blink of an eye.  I want to look back and remember what made Bahrain, Bahrain.  These blog posts are those memories, those little things.  And who knows, maybe someone will find a little more gratitude in their day after reading this when they realize just how awesome it is to control the temperature of your own water.  Again, those little things.

Gratitude is one of the most valuable perspectives to have, especially when we have it so good.  And we do have it, SO GOOD.  Life is really good to us…just a wee-bit different in Bahrain.  Different is not bad though, just different.  I personally LOVE IT (most of the time) even though it does take a little more effort, patience, and acceptance.  Since patience is not my forte, more like the biggest life lesson to work on, Bahrain is providing ample experiences for me to lose my mind and then recenter myself as I say, “let it go. let it go.  let it go.”  As a yogi, what more could I ask for than an entire day of challenges to practice patience and acceptance?

Time for me to get to bed.  Seahawks squeaked out another win.  Sorry Falcons fans.  Go Hawks!  And….

Aloha & Namaste y’all.  Until next time.

The transition to Bahrain

Note: In retrospect, my first blog about Bahrain titled “The first 30 days in Bahrain” should have been titled something like, “What I’ve observed in the first 30 days”  because this blog is really more about the first 30 days.  I’m new to this blog thing.  I’ll learn.  Thanks for hanging in there with me.

The most common question I keep getting asked is, “How was the move?  How is it? What is it like?”  The answers to these questions are not so straightforward.  The short answer is, “it’s good, same same but different,” a phrase often heard when traveling abroad.  The more truthful answer is…

We landed here on June 30th after six flights. Yes, SIX, with Trace who is 2.5 years old and Izzy who was 15.5 months old.  Why six flights you ask?  Because the military booked them for us.  Period.  Need I say more?  Tad came home excited (clearly he hadn’t flown with the children before) that we were flying from Tallahassee to Orlando to Dulles to Norfolk.  We’d spend the night in Norfolk to start our outbound rotator flight (military flight) from Norfolk to Spain to Italy and finally Bahrain.  My grey hairs started sprouting immediately.

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Trace finally sleeps on the airplane.

Our first flight out of Tallahassee proved to be the biggest test and an act of trust and constant prayer.  The airlines the military booked us through, a smaller partner of United, was not ready or prepared to handle a military family moving abroad with our extra luggage, overweight, car seats, and stroller.  While Trace was totally excited that it was a propeller airplane, like Dusty Crophopper!!!, I kept praying that our bags, strollers, and car seats with HANDWRITTEN baggage tags (yes, their printers happen to break the morning of our flight) would make it to Norfolk.  I didn’t hold my breath and immediately knew we would be shopping for new stuff in Bahrain.  To my delightful surprise everything made it to Norfolk.  I can’t say the same from Norfolk to Bahrain but everything eventually caught up to us and for that 6 flights to Bahrain was a miracle.  

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So cute it hurts. Miss Iz sleeping on the airplane

The flights were not as bad as I had anticipated (no, I didn’t bootleg some Xanex), thanks to introducing Trace to the tablet and movies. Best move ever.  Izzy had more stir crazy moments but I don’t blame her. She finally figured out that flying is boring for a 15 month old and slept.  The hardest part was keeping them from going absolutely bonkers at the airport in Spain and Italy. That’s when I needed a drink and Xanex. Too bad for me.  So all-in-all, the kids did great, waaaaay better than I expected for six flights and three days in airplanes and airports.

We landed in Bahrain at 0230 (that’s 2:30 am) three days after leaving Tallahassee.  It was 99 degrees.  It was a slap in the sweaty face of reality.  Luckily, Tad’s sponsor (the guy he replaced) met us at the airport and took great care to make sure were shown the ropes for the first few days.  He set us up to live at the Elite Resort and Spa until we could find our own house.  No, there is no Base living here.  Everyone lives out in town.  We did find our place to call home relatively quickly but here we are on day 32 in the hotel due to logistics and paperwork.  Patience is definitely the theme of my life right now.  The hotel is a large international hotel (mostly Saudi’s on vacation, their nannies, and other US military personnel moving to or leaving Bahrain) with amazing customer service.  Our room is a large two bedroom suite with a kitchen on the 14th floor overlooking the capital city of Manama and two bays.

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The view from our hotel room. Looking at Manama, Bahrain.

Hotel living seemed daunting at first but now I think it was a great way to adjust. Everyone here is so nice and helpful. They love, LOVE, Trace and Izzy…a lot! Almost too much contact for my liking but it’s just the customs here. Trace and Izzy have handled it well though. Izzy typically gets this look of fear, finds me, and then runs to me saying, “Mama. Mama.” Trace sometimes lets people hold him. The creepy ones he runs. His judgement of character is on point. Thank goodness.

Tad started work…yes, the day we arrived. He truly is a juxtaposition of lazy and hard working. I can learn a lot. The Navy Base where Tad works is nothing exciting.  Just a bunch of square buildings (with frigid AC…hallelujah!), lots of imported palm trees, and sand.  Really describes the whole island.  Trace insists on wearing his flip flops then immediately cries and complains of getting sand in his shoes. He’s a smart boy, except when it comes to his flip flops and sand. Bless his two and a half year old heart.  I have felt very grounded by a steady yoga and meditation practice that somehow feels easier to find the time to do here than back in Virginia.  My travel bug has been reborn and despite having two toddlers in-tow, I want to see, really see, smell, feel, hear, taste, this place.  #Bahrainorbust

Trace and Izzy are adjusting as well as possible but it’s not easy being a toddler anywhere in the world, let alone during a big move like this. Yes, Izzy entered her toddler stage sometime between Tallahassee and Bahrain.  Let’s really add some fuel to the fire, yippeee.  She’s discovered her voice, opinions, and screams a.k.a death squeals.  Why didn’t any of my mom friends with girls tell me of this horrible noise?  The first five days were the most rough due to several factors, 1. everything–the sounds, smells, clothes, beds, food, brightness of the sun, dust, taste of water, weather, EVERYTHING–was new to the kids which was fun and exciting until it wasn’t, 2.  Trace and Izzy had to learn to share a room for their first time while having troubles adapting to the time change (no big surprise), and 3. Ramadan was in full swing.  Eventually total exhaustion won and the kids got on schedule but that was right around Eid, the last day of Ramadan.  Ramadan is a holy month for the Islam religion.  Not being Islam and arriving during their holidays with two toddlers in 100+ weather was quite a treat (insert loads of sarcasm).  Out of respect, we did not eat or drink in public, show public displays of affection, or wear anything a typical westerner would in 100+ degree weather.  100+ degree outings with two toddlers who can’t have water is not a reality I wish on anyone.  Trace made us pay for it.  I don’t blame him. So for selfish reasons, Eid (the last day of Ramadan) was something I celebrated too.

I think changing routine is exactly what every psychologist and toddler book says not to do.  But we did it.  We had to.  Overall, they did great and I don’t blame them a single bit for crying more, being more clingy, and a little more irritating. I feel the same towards them. Locals seem to love, maybe tolerate is a better term, Americans so nothing but good vibes so far.  Almost everyone speaks English, or some version of it.  People seem utterly surprised when I share that I’m from the United States.  Maybe I should begin asking where they think I’m from.  My hunch is they think I’m from the Philippines (refer to First 30 days in Bahrain blog).

Sorry there is a lack of photos so far.  Honestly it just looks like an urban city with a lot of dust. Well, and the photos on Google are better.  Just do a quick Google search.

A hui hou…until next time…

Aloha & Namaste

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A beautiful sunset view from the master bedroom in our hotel room.

Fear. Oh how I’ve come to conquer thee.

July 17, 2017:  I jumped on WordPress just now (it’s nap time for the kids) to write a blog and voila I discovered a blog that never went public written one year ago.  Crazy!  So, I guess this is my post.  A little dated but still a good one.  And as always, it’s perfect timing and a perfect reminder.  Now on with the blog from July 17, 2016…

On June 30th our family (my husband, 2.5 yo, 15 month old, and myself) landed in the Kingdom of Bahrain to live here for a few years. We never know exactly how long, it’s a military thing. So you’d think there would have been many times in the months prior to this move where fear would have risen. From the time we got the news to actually moving fear was never one of the emotions I felt or experienced. Yes, a litany of other emotions I experienced but fear was not one of them.

However, when we started looking for a house I noticed with every single hour that passed that I wasn’t being shown the “perfect place” by our real estate agent my liver was getting more and more bound up…Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) term for frustrated or angry. I would find myself going through the mental pep-talks, “Breathe Haunani. Let it go. It’s going to be alright.” But was it?! Would it?!

Luckily my yoga practice has continued to be relatively strong since arriving and when I sat to meditate on these feelings I realized the underlying emotion I was experiencing was not anger or frustration but fear. In my experience, most non-loving feelings boil down to fear. Try it, take a look at your emotions; easier said than done, but it becomes easier with guidance and lots and lots of practice…i.e. yoga.  When I sat with my fear, I realized what I was afraid of was not being able to live near the beautiful seas of Bahrain.  It wasn’t death I was afraid of or being attacked, it was afraid of my own desires not being fulfilled. How silly and selfish is that?  Haha.  I can see how ridiculous this is now, but at the time I was losing my appetite over it and becoming Mrs. Bitch Queen to my kids. Not fair to them…or anyone.

I try not to compare my emotions and suffering. I try to just see them as they are. Judgement arises, of course, but a healthy form that allows me to see the big picture laugh at myself and then find it easier to let go. So that’s what I did.   My kids were napping when I got to sit in this self-reflection and they were still napping so I decided to dig a little deeper.  What, really, is fear? I’ve asked myself this question for years. It’s a goodie. Something I enjoy contemplating.

As I sat there contemplating ‘what is fear?’, I really felt in the core of my being that fear is not trusting God, the Universe, or whatever you call your higher source.  In Pantanjali’s yoga Sutra, the eight path/branches of yoga is a guide toward living liberated from the illusions of the mind, discovering one’s true nature, and ultimately being liberated from our own suffering.  One of the eight branches is called Yama, or personal observances.  Within the Yamas, Ishvara pranidhana or devotion to Ishvara (God), is one of these self practices and observances.  When I was sitting and contemplating ‘what is fear?’ it became clear that one act of devotion is to trust.  To trust myself in acting with discernment and decision making with my husband.  To trust that our decision would not be the “wrong” one.  To trust that our decision would be the “best one given the information we were given.”  I do believe that we are all connected to all things, we are a part of nature, we are divine creatures that walk and talk with will and consciousness, then not trusting God, or the creator, is very scary. Simply not trusting God would mean not trusting all of my being. THAT is scary.

Good thing is, it’s been easier to manage this whole house hunting process in Bahrain now that I have that revealed. God’s got my back. I’m doing my due diligence, acting and choosing with discernment. If it’s meant to be then great but most likely where we end up will be better than anything I could have imagined or dreamed up for my family. This I have experienced time and time again. I limit my reality with my own desires or expectations. If I can trust God, the life I will get to live and experience will be brighter and more amazing than my little brain can hope to control.

So while I may not have totally conquered fear in all its forms, like my title would suggest, it does feel good to know that Bahrain is already turning into another great teacher.  I am not surprised.  I look forward to keeping my fears in check and coming back to “trust God” or “trust the process” as our time in Bahrain unfolds.