Middle East Mama

Trying to keep sane in the Land of Almost!

So This Didn’t Work, Did It? September 9, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — aprilfamily @ 9:41 am

Ok, I thought starting up a new blog would inspire me to write more, to be more free and not feel like the weight of expectations would be on me.

That hasn’t happened. This just doesn’t feel like “home” to me, so I’m heading back over to The Simple Life at Home. I still probably won’t post near as often as I used to, but I feel like I kind of abandoned all the history of my bloggy life; who I was and how I got to where I am now.

I’m going to post a quick update over there today if you are interested in checking it out.


Refreshed August 7, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — aprilfamily @ 9:31 am

I can honestly say I haven’t felt this refreshed and positive in a long time.

The kids and I returned a week ago from our 6 week visit to the US.  While jetlag was a killer for the first 3-4 days, at this point, I’m full of energy and excitement.  Here’s why:

Living in Qatar

This was the first time that we’ve returned to Qatar that I’ve really looked forward to coming home.  (Calling it “home” right there is a big step!) I missed my husband, my house, my co-workers, my job.  While we had a great time in Tucson and Miami, I was ready to come home.  And even more importantly, my kids were ok with coming back too.  That’s a minor miracle right there!  Yes, there were a few shed tears at the airport, but they were short-lived.  I think everyone is ready to get back to our so-called normal life here and move forward.

Time with Friends and Family

I laughed so hard I cried.  It was so refreshing to be with such good friends, people whom I have a history with and love dearly.  While I’m still working on making those connections here, it felt amazing to be back with people who can just look at me and make me laugh.

Our Home

We’ve been living in Qatar for 2.5 years now.  But just now are we painting the walls of our home and making it “ours.”  In our first house, we knew we didn’t want to stay there so we didn’t bother.  We’ve been in this house since October, but it’s taken us this long to get around to it.  Hubby painted the dining room a beautiful red while I was away (yes, I picked it and even took the paint chip to the US with me to find matching fabric to recover the chairs in).  I love it!!  Yesterday we painted one of Daniel’s bedroom walls the same red (red’s his favorite color and it will go nicely with his blue and white bedding).  We also painted half of Emily’s room and are going to finish it up today.  She picked an apple green for two walls and a medium blue for the other two.  She based her color choices on her bedding and some wall art she found in the US.  She’s especially happy to be having her room re-done and I can’t wait for the finished product.  Hopefully once it’s all done and the house is actually clean enough to take pictures of (HA!  like that will ever happen!!!), I’ll post some pictures here.

My Job

I started work again last Sunday, complete with a promotion that I received over the summer.  My new boss and I have a great working relationship and I think that I will develop that too with the new associate principal.  They seem to be a great team and the whole mood in the office is upbeat and very encouraging.


Thanks to my mom’s help, I’ve started taking control of my weight.  Since the end of June I have lost 18 pounds.  Whoo-hoo!!  I still have a long way to go, but at least I’m on the right path.

It just seems like everything is going right these days.  I’m grateful to God for His blessings and His providence in my life.  Yippee!!


Here We Go Again May 21, 2010

Filed under: Life in Qatar — aprilfamily @ 11:45 pm

One of the worst things about living the “expat” life is the transitory nature of it all.  For instance, you don’t want to invest too much in furnishing your home because you probably will get rid of it all in a few years.  So, do you make do with cheap, tacky stuff or spend more, even knowing that it’s all temporary?  

But the bigger problem is that relationships are often temporary too.  Last year, we said goodbye to many of the people who we had become friends with during our first few months here.  Now that summer is rapidly approaching and the school year is drawing to a close, we are hearing about more and more people who will be packing up and leaving Doha for good.  

Tonight Emily went to a birthday party for two friends of hers, brother and sister.  It was a surprise party and the kids were all having a great time.  Until the mom gathered everyone and announced that they were moving to Dubai over the summer.  The party was instantly over of course.  This family hosts a weekly Bible study and lunch for the teens after school on Tuesdays.  The kids have been part of the same mission teams Em’s gone on for the last two years.  The son was one of the first people to befriend her when she started school.  

What to do?  You can’t very well think of people and relationships like furniture, deciding not to invest.  You don’t really have a choice but to build relationships with the knowledge that they won’t be long-term.  Of course, now that there’s Facebook and email and all other manners of communication, you may not lose the relationship entirely, but it’s not the same as having that face-to-face contact.

I don’t know that I’ll ever get used to this endless cycles of hellos and goodbyes.  In the two years we’ve been here, there have probably been at least 15 people I’ve gotten to start building friendships with only to have them leave.  It’s been hard and I don’t feel like I’ve still found a “soul sister” here.  I don’t know if I ever will.  But I guess the only thing to do is keep plugging away, keep trying to make connections and keep trusting God.  Saying goodbyes is hard, but I’m trying to learn to just be grateful for the opportunities to get to know the people that God has placed in our paths, for whatever length of time.


We Need Some Fun Around Here May 15, 2010

Filed under: Simply Life — aprilfamily @ 11:54 pm

I miss my old life.  The one where I homeschooled my kids, things got done during the day and our nights and weekends were free to do as we liked.  In our current life, I leave home each morning at 7:20 (Hubby’s long gone by 6:15) and return home around 3:45 each afternoon.  By the time I figure out what’s for dinner, prepare dinner, keep on top of the kids with regards to homework, straighten up the house from the morning’s chaos, serve dinner, clean up after dinner, and go back to homework help, I’m exhausted.  All I want to do is collapse in front of the tv and vegetate.  Not the most fun life, huh?

Hubby and I were talking yesterday about how we’ve been so sick lately.  I think part of it is stress and mentioned that we never really do anything fun as a family.  We never go to the movies, bowling, to play pool, nothing.  Once in a great while, we’ll go out to dinner, but that’s not really “fun.”    

I think that lightening up our home life will make a big difference.  So I’m soliciting ideas.  Now, remember I am in Doha, so any suggestions will need to be rather general.  But if you can suggest any kind of things for us to do that will spice up our rather boring, mundane life, it will be much appreciated!!


What a Day May 12, 2010

Filed under: Simply Life — aprilfamily @ 9:08 pm

Let’s take a look at how my day went:

1) Heard my daughter’s permission to join the journalism class next year was rescinded, which upset me greatly since it was already rescinded once and then reinstated.

2) Lunch was gross

3) Went to the ortho – I hate having braces

4) Picked a email fight with my boss (a.k.a., my daughter’s principal), which was probably PMS inspired and now he hates me

5) Our bunny died 😦

6) Realized at 8:30 that we are on our second day without milk. Went to the store and got cut off on the way home, sending all the groceries crashing to the floor in the backseat.

I’m ready for bed.


Carpe Diem May 1, 2010

Filed under: Simply Life — aprilfamily @ 10:45 am

This week marked the end of my boss’s tenure at our school.  As high school principal, he clearly made a difference in the lives of many, many students in a way that I didn’t know a principal could.  My own high school principal lived in his office, never emerging it seems.  My boss, Mike, was hardly ever in his office, often prompting me to tell him I was going to staple a GPS to his ear like they do with sea lions.  But Mike lived and breathed the students of our school.  He was energized by being with them.  

So what prompted him to leave?  Sadly, a tragic diagnosis of Lou Gerihg’s Disease.  He kept the news a secret for several months, but it progressed to the point where his body was betraying him more and more and it was no longer possible to keep that secret.  We’ve known for months now that his time with us was limited, and that day arrived this week.

As he prepared to leave that last day, a steady stream of students, parents, staff and faculty came to say their goodbyes.  Students were even running to find him as he and his wife walked to the parking lot that last time.  

As I watched him go all I could think about was how there are no guarantees in life.  Here is a man, just 50 years old with two young children.  A man who only eats healthily, biked to work, worked out.  A man who is a kind as the day is long.  And his future looks a bleak as it gets.

It makes me want to look at my life and see if I am having that kind of an impact. I may not have it on as many people, but am I impacting my husband, my children, my family, friends and acquaintances that way?  Am I serving as a beacon of encouragement and compassion in the same way that Mike spent his years here doing?  

Far too often, I’m wrapped up on my own little world to even notice others.  Or I’m too easily annoyed by others and find myself rushing to judgement.  Mike taught me alot about compassion.  I watched him deal with students in such a kind and loving way and always let them know, no matter what they had done, that he believed in them and knew they could do better, even if they didn’t know it yet.

So I want to “seize the day” – not just for living an out-there, adventurous life, but for showing compassion, kindness and encouragement.  I want to learn to take advantage of each encounter and show people the love of Christ in that moment.  Because we never know when it might be the last time we have that chance.


Simple or Easy? April 27, 2010

Filed under: Simply Life — aprilfamily @ 2:57 pm

Recently I read Julie/Julia.  (Unfortunately, though I loved the writing, I can’t recommend it because the language was atrocious.  It’s sad that something so witty and clever has to be spoiled for no reason.)  One thing that the author said has stuck with me since the moment I read it.  

In talking about the making of a certain dish (which one escapes me), she remarks on how it’s really a simple dish – just a few ingredients and not many steps.  The dish, however, is not easy.  The steps, few though they might be, are complicated and require great care in doing them properly.  Do it incorrectly and the dish could be spoiled.

It got me thinking about how I usually confuse “easy” with “simple.”  For years I have longed for a simple life.  I dream of the days when we will have a peaceful home where everyone feels relaxed and stress-free.  The reality is, however, that our time is often harried, rushing from one place to another, ordering dinner in, agonizing over homework and falling into bed (or into a tv-induced coma on the couch) at the end of the night, exhausted.  SOO not what I want for my family.

Easy: Not hard or difficult; requiring no great labor or effort

Simple:  easy to understand, deal with, use, etc.: a simple matter; simple tools; not elaborate or artificial; plain; not ornate or luxurious; unadorned; unaffected; unassuming; modest; not complicated.

I want simple.  Yes, it’s nice to have things easy.  But do you know what?  Easy isn’t necessarily what’s best.  Building a family, a life, a home takes work.  It doesn’t happen just by sitting back and letting the chips fall where they may.  It’s hard work to train and disciple the children God has entrusted you with.  It requires effort and planning and care to run a home where the people in it are nourished, physically, mentally and spiritually.  


Sure, I could take the easy way out.  (Sadly, I think I’ve fallen into that trap lately.) But while I want life to be simple, I don’t just want to mindlessly walk through my days doing whatever it takes to get through the day.  I want our lives to be more mindful, more deliberate than that.  But, like Julia’s recipe for whatever-it-was, those steps take some effort.

What about you?  How do you define easy vs. simple in your home?  What steps do you take to make your life simpler?