Cut and paste stories of Bahrain

Clearly, we’ve “settled” into our routine of living in Bahrain. I say that because I don’t feel as motivated to write, a direct reflection of feeling comfortable and not having the need to share or think anything is worth sharing.  Then again, my parents were just here for five weeks and spending time with them was a priority.  I bet if I asked them what I should write about, they’d say “driving in Bahrain.”  So I’ll begin working on that one.  In the meantime…

In doing some computer and smartphone cleaning, I found some pieces I had begun to write when we first moved here.  Rather than try to weave them into one long story as if they actually represented now, I figured I’d literally cut and paste.  It may not read as cohesively but I do want to “archive” them in some way as family memories.  Enjoy

5th Anniversary
Immediately upon arriving Tad and I had our 5th wedding anniversary. “Had” being the most appropriate word, not celebrated and definitely not toasted. Honestly, we almost forgot. Oops. In the short to-do list of moving our whole life across the globe, we both forgot about our anniversary. This is what I love about us. We did both mentioned, in passing at one of the six airport terminals we got the pleasure of sitting in, that the other should not expect anything for our anniversary. But to actually go until about 2pm before remembering…ooops.  Clearly, we are a good match for each other with very low expectations.  When we did finally remember, we figured out that still being married after three moves, two deployments, two amazing kids back-to-back, and not having killed our kids or each other was probably the best gift we could give each other. We then also did the geographic math and discovered we have been in a different state or country for each of our anniversaries: 1st Hawaii. 2nd California. 3rd Florida. 4th Virginia. 5th Bahrain. Not totally outrageous places often sought out for anniversaries but a cool record nonetheless, one that may actually hold up for a few more years. So Happy Anniversary to us.

Moving with Toddlers
Trace and Izzy have been the real rock stars of this move. Yes, kids are adaptable blah blah blah. Aaaaaand no they are not! If you are a parent of a toddler you know as well as anyone that all the psychologist and toddler books say, “routine is everything.” Let me paraphrase the rest for all my friends and family who forget the toddler stage, a.k.a tantrum stage: your child depends on predictability and routine. If you want to mess up your child up and deal with tantrums, break their routine. Whatever you do, don’t move across the globe to new sounds, smells, tastes, temperatures, and sights. This will destroy their sense of reality and you will be the one to pay.  Like the awesome and amazing parents we are, we moved across the globe. Why follow the rules?

 

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Izzy’s first tantrum.  The hotel elevator, a convenient place to share how you really feel.

Call it luck, timing, or fateful backlash to moving across the globe, Izzy discovered her voice and opinions about three days after landing in Bahrain. Thank goodness we have TWO toddlers now. Oh, joy. Yippee. I was just starting to think this whole parenting thing was getting too easy and boring (said no mom of a two-year-old. Ever.). I now look forward to the unpredictable nature of wine o’clock. No, not whine o’clock, that’s predictable. That will happen all day long. Wine o’clock is the time I decide to have my first glass of wine. It might be 10am or 2pm.  That’s what makes it so fun. Every day is different. Like a choose your own adventure but every ending I’m the winner. Wine o’ clock is definitely proportional to the psychopathic irrational tendencies of the two toddlers in my life. No shame. The real choose your own adventure horror plot twist is when the wine supply is low at home and your only source of wine is on Base (a full hour outing there and back).  Makes wine o’clock more interesting now, eh?

In all seriousness, Trace and Izzy are doing really well for moving across the globe into 120-degree weather.  Yes, it keeps getting hotter.  The hotel is our saving grace still.  It is hilarious and so sweet to watch Trace and Izzy jet out of the hotel elevator and race to the lobby so they can begin their pageantry of waves, “good morning’s” and “hi’s.” It’s so sweet. The breakfast staff adores the kids too. The commotion of “hello’s”, giggles, and waves that accompany walking into breakfast every morning, or just into the lobby, makes me feel almost like a celebrity. The hotel staff has been so sweet to us.  Tad and I are trying to figure out how to stay in touch. The staff here is truly amazing.  They will be missed.

How Burning Man prepped me for living in Bahrain

Never, and really I mean never, did I ever think my Burning Man adventure would follow me to Bahrain.  Thank God I went to Burning Man to learn how to walk my way through a sandstorm.  Today, the day we are moving into our Villa it is so dusty and so windy I can barely see the high rise hotels that are less than 200 meters away from our hotel.  Our beautiful view that I have come to love and admire at every hour of the day…just gone.  Gone behind a wall of dust and sand.  My lungs are already crying and scratchy just looking out over the dust.  This should make for a really interesting move today.

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The view of Manama from our hotel living room.

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The view of Manama from our hotel living room the day we moved out of the hotel.

and the last cut and paste story…

What will go next?…

Our dryer machine was taken away…again; the second time in ten days.  Honestly, it wouldn’t be such a big deal but the temperatures have dropped enough that it now takes a full day and a half to air dry/line dry most of the clothes, instead of 30 minutes that it took in the summer.  Insert your sad face emoji here.  As I drive around the neighborhood or look out our windows to the balconies nearby, I realize I’m whining.  I am.

Life in Bahrain, life in “the sandbox” as some of the other Americans call it, as I have mentioned before is same, same but different.  When it comes to the house, this is NO exception.  Our house has every amenity (minus a sink disposal) that a suburban house in the US would have.  Heck, we even have a bidet in every bathroom.  So what lies in the “different” category?  While amazingly beautiful and serene on the outside is in a constant state of work or repair.  Something is always breaking.

Just in the last 10 days of the dryer deciding it doesn’t want to spin and the electricians telling me they fixed it (they did for one load before it broke again), we also had an electrical short in our downstairs.  After a full day of no electricity in the kitchen, and being told an electrician came by and fixed it (he didn’t), Tad somehow figured out how to trick the circuit breaker to stay on.  In that same time period, the OSN (cable) decided to short out too.  It’s been three days and I don’t anticipate it being fixed within the week.   Oh yes, and the pool pump has taken on a life of its own.  Despite a major language barrier between the pool guy and myself, he tells me, “It’s okay madam.  Automatic timer is okay madam.  It’s okay.”  But it isn’t.

While it seems excessive the constant house repairs and electrical fixes, when I think back on our first few months in the house, this is the norm: blocked sinks, broken upstairs door that needed complete re-welding, air conditioning units needing repair every 7-14 days, broken oven, broken microwave, broken shower heads, broken water pipe, and broken water heaters…insert defeated sad emoji face here.  Each break takes a minimum of two days to coordinate and fix, but I’d say the average is 5-10 days to fix.  Just when everything seems like it’s in good working order around the house give it 10 days and something will go.  Thank goodness I’m not working outside the house doing a typical 8-5.  My domestication value (yes, I made that up just now) is very high right now since I need to be around the house nearly half the month for someone to come fix something.  And if you’ve read previous blogs, the repairman never, NEVER, comes when he says, so I become housebound for days at a time awaiting his arrival.

All this “house stuff” keeps me humble though.  I keep thinking, if this is what our house is like, I can’t imagine what others who have fewer resources and money are going through to keep their place in working order.  Even our housemaid Anjala laughs at me when I get upset or frustrated when the next thing breaks.  She tells me, “This is normal madam.  All Bahrain is like this.  No need to get upset.”  Whether she’s saying this because she’s figured me out and doesn’t want me to stress, or it’s the truth, she’s like a zen teacher watching over me.  So this, the house, has become a new yoga practice…not allowing all the little things to add up and ruin my day.  The silver lining is that it forces me to stay home with the kiddos and we get to play a lot.  Watching these two transform week after week is pulling at my heartstrings in a major way.  I want it to hurry up because I hate toddlers AND at the same time, I never want them to stop saying, “more snuggles mommia.”

I think everyone right now could use more snuggles and fewer headaches.

Cheers!  To more snuggles and fewer headaches.

Aloha & Namaste

 

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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 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 judgment 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 roughest due to several factors, 1. everything–the sounds, smells, clothes, beds, food, the brightness of the sun, dust, taste of water, weather, EVERYTHING–was new to the kids which were 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 by 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.