Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dispatch from Doha - The Early Days

We're here. I've taken in an enormous amount of information in the past 48 hours, and there's too much to cover in one post but some of the highlights include:

  • Children that did beautifully on the flight over (15 hours)
  • Children that are just barely getting over jetlag. The first two nights, the oldes two woke up at 3:00 a.m. hungry and wide awake. They had pb&j's, eventually went back to sleep, and didn't get up until we woke them up at noon!
  • Our home phone still doesn't work, and it costs a small fortune to make an international call on the cell phone. This sucks because I can talk faster than I type, and I can squeeze in a phone call much easier than I can the time to compose an e-mail.
  • I've visited three separate grocery stores in two days, spending more than $800, and I still have a one-page list of things I need for this "furnished" house (i.e. dish towels, hand towels, bigger pillows, baskets, cereal bowls, etc.)
  • It's 5:20 am here, and the baby still hasn't woken up yet, so this is very good.
  • We can't find Amelia's formula here. They have several kinds of Similac, but not the Sensitive Formula for babies that are gassy. Our options right now are to ship it (expensive), use lactose-free (not sure we need to do that), or see how she does on the regular formula. I bought a container of the regular stuff for now, and a friend suggested that we look at a pharmacy to see if they might have it there.
  • A new order/restriction is in place regarding driver's licences. There's a chance I might not be able to take my driver's license exam for more than a month. This is very, very bad for all sorts of reasons.
  • We blew up the portable DVD because we didn't have a converter (just an adaptor), we are in dire need of expanded cable or immediate entertainment for the children. Hannah has already made a couple of friends, but one is leaving for Saudi today, and the other is kept on an unusually tight leash (slightly weird, but extremely nice, home-schooling Mom, who btw had three bags of toys and blueberry muffins waiting for us when we arrived!!) They'd also stocked the house with some basic items: milk, bread, crackers, peanut butter, jelly, etc. Then I came to find that she only has these items because she's been having them shipped weekly from the states. Evidently, one can't actually get grape jelly in Doha.
  • The call to prayer is beautiful. It's a somber, comforting reminder that many people are stopping whatever they're doing to be dutiful to their religious practice, no matter how inconvenient. I gotta respect that. Don't get me wrong, I'm soooo happy that I can't hear it from inside my house unless the front door is open, but I do like listening to it.
  • I drove for the first time yesterday. The roundabouts weren't as bad as I though they'd be, but it will still take a lot of getting used to in terms of finding my way back home and figuring out the consequences of not having left turns.
  • I can't wait for our stuff to get here! I've done my best to make it feel like home, but right now it still feels like we're on vacaction in a luxury home in an American compound.
  • Still no word on the American School for Hannah. Or, I should say, one set of people thinks she'll get in, one person yesterday said he didn't think any other kids that weren't already accepted have a snowball's chance in hell. Thus, we'll look at a couple of other schools and let her see the campuses.
  • The first night here, on the way home from the airport, I did the unthinkable. I rode in a vehicle with Amelia in my arms. It's a long story, but it involved her screaming at the top of her lungs, projectile vomiting her bottle up all over herself because she was so worked up, and her really just wanting to be held. I not-so-nimbly flew into the backseat and picked her up and held her for the 15-minute drive home and prayed we didn't have an accident.
  • Nothing could have prepared me for how different things are here...even our previous visit.
  • Oh, and they don't really believe in tampons. That's just freakin great. I packed enough to get me through my next cycle, but I'll be having my friend stash extra in her suitcase when she comes over....and THANK GOD someone is coming over to help! We just need an extra set of hands right now.

This is just a nutshell version of the first few days. Today is my first day on campus, and the driver is coming to pick me up in a few hours, so I'm off to shower, make myself presentable, and get formula made for the day. I'm hoping to get to post more frequently once the kids get back to their regular schedules, but everything is just a bit crazy now. Until next time, the roller coaster ride continues :)

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